Previously, when an individual had a health issue or question, they consulted a physician, viewing them as almost Godlike and following their advice without question. Yet this automatic confidence and complete reliance on physician’s perceived divinity has begun to erode somewhat in recent years. This shift has occurred as our desire to have more input and control in regards to our own physical and emotional well being has evolved. Currently, in the United States, people are developing a constantly increasing interest in their personal health and the health of their families. Coinciding with this greater health focus, is a sense of personal responsibility for our individual health status and the desire to be more involved in treatment decisions.
The common use of the internet in today’s world has put enormous amounts of information on just about every topic imaginable at our fingertips. We are able to obtain knowledge on practically any topic we choose, with the click of a button, including the area of health issues. In addition, the internet provides us with the ability to order a vast array of consumer products, including reference books on health, which we can often have delivered in as little as 24 hours without even being required to leave the comfort of our own homes.
This trend to increase personal knowledge and responsibility for our health has resulted in countless books becoming available on just about every existing medical topic, from opinions on immunizations to impotence to complementary or alternative treatments for common as well as uncommon illnesses such as malaria. Of the countless books presently on the market, one that no home should be without is entitled The Pill Book. The Pill Book is an excellent household reference including information on more than 1180 prescribed drugs in the United States as well as some common over-the-counter medications, including a list of the 200 most commonly prescribed drugs, an index of generic and brand drugs and 32 pages of color plates showing about 400, life-size photos of common, brand name drugs.
The author has gone to great lengths to make this publication user friendly, understandable to the layman with no medical background, and easy to use. He appears to have succeeded as the material is well organized, clear and concise, and can likely be used by most people to find information related to medications before a medical appointment or to learn more about what has been prescribed for them as well as what would be the most appropriate over the counter remedies for a variety of conditions. The book lists drugs alphabetically by generic name, since those are what the majority of individuals are most likely to be familiar with.
In addition, for each drug listed, the book provides the pronunciation, brand name, medication type and use, general information, cautions and warnings, possible side effects, interactions, dosage and a description of overdose effects and basic treatment.
For added emphasis, the book includes a black border around descriptions of possible side effects, calling extra attention to them. The index at the back of the book provides a simple way to look up a drug by either generic or brand name. The information found within this reference volume is also comprehensive and thorough. For the generic drug acetaminophen, for example, 28 separate brand names are listed to differentiate brands consisting of this medication versus alternative brands which indicate different, but somewhat similar medications such as ibuprofen.
There are many other valuable sections of this book making it particularly appropriate for home use. These include emergency advice for many situations, and safety information for example, specific details to remember for safe drug use such as dangerous interaction effects, and safety tips for self-injection drugs. The author also provides information which can help individuals participate in their own medical care by including ann exteensive list of questions to ask their physician or pharmacist. A particularly relevant section, taking into account the current status of health care policy and managed care, includes tips for saving money on medication, a problem that has become critical not only for the elderly, who are sometimes forced to choose between paying for food or medication, but also for the growing number of individuals who can’t afford health insurance and/or are unemployed.
Although information on some vitamins, minerals and common non-prescription drugs are included, these substances are given extremely limited coverage. Other books available from the same publisher treat these categories in more detail.
With more than 14 million copies in print, The Pill Book is one of the most popular, useful and comprehensive consumer references on medication. It is a book no home should be without.