1. Are there any lifestyle changes I can try before starting a drug regimen?
"For many chronic medical problems, treatment should start with lifestyle changes," says Edward Jardini, MD, the author of How to Save on Prescription Drugs: 20 Cost-Saving Methods and a family physician at a private practice in Templeton, Calif., where he was formerly the chair of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and chief of family practice. One of Dr. Jardini's patients, Ernesto (not his real name) was 49 when he developed diabetes in 1999. Instead of going on drugs, Ernesto decided to try losing weight first. He dropped 10 pounds in three months, and was down to 232 pounds. Even that small weight loss stabilized his blood-sugar levels, and his diabetes has been undetectableand he has been drug-freeever since.
Of course, though healthy eating and exercise can help many conditions, they can’t always cure every medical problem or replace a drug regimen. Plus, they can be tough to stick to or integrate with your job or other responsibilities. If you decide you want to start with lifestyle changes, set a time frame (say, three months) with your doctor to see if it’s working; if it’s not, then you may want to reconsider medication. Some conditions may require medication from the outset, which can then be reduced if lifestyle changes have enough of an effect.