Australians' use of pharmaceuticals is on the rise, however medicines alone are not always the most effective treatment for many common medical conditions.
Some people think that medicine is the only cure available and that they need a prescription every time they visit their doctor.
Sometimes, conditions such as heart disease, high blood cholesterol and diabetes can be improved or prevented by people making small changes to their lifestyle. These changes can be as simple as taking a walk every day and eating a healthy diet.
Try these tips for effective ways to improve your health:
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist regularly about your medicines and how to take them. Make sure you tell them all the medicines you are taking including complementary and alternative medicines.
- Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) leaflet on your medicine. This provides important details about the medicine you are taking.
- If you take a lot of medicines, talk to your doctor about a Home Medicines Review - this will help you to use your medicines more effectively and avoid unwanted effects.
- Ask your doctor about the medicines required for your treatment and about healthy lifestyle changes that you can make in combination with, or instead of your medicines.
- Keep stress under control - we all have stresses in our lives, and knowing how to keep stress at a manageable level means a healthier lifestyle.
- Don't smoke - there is no doubt that smoking kills. Quitting smoking has health benefits at any age and support is available through the Quitline. Smoking is an important risk factor for the three diseases that cause most deaths in Australia: heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.
- If you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation and make sure you understand the short and long term effects of drinking alcohol on your health. Be aware that many commonly prescribed medicines interact adversely with alcohol.
- Eat well - fresh vegetables and fruit as part of a balanced diet are essential for your body.
- Participate in physical activity regularly. Find ways of fitting physical activity into your life that suit you - walk, cycle, dance, swim, play sport and enjoy the health benefits of physical activity. Being active with a friend is more enjoyable and means you are more likely to do it.
- Be social - talking and mixing with others is a great way to remain healthy emotionally and socially. Spend time with your family and friends.
There are many ways in which simple changes can improve your lifestyle. Ask your doctor to prescribe what choices are the best for you. Visit www.healthinsite.gov.au
for more information on a healthy lifestyle or contact the Population Health Division Publications line on 1800 020 103
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The cost of the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme (PBS) is increasing rapidly - over the past four years it's gone up more than 60%. Adopting a healthy lifestyle will help ensure the PBS can continue to provide all Australians with access to affordable medicines. Remember, the cost of PBS prescription medicines is subsidised, you usually pay no more than $23.10* or $3.70* if you have a concession card.
For more information, talk to your pharmacist or doctor, phone the toll-free PBS information line on 1800 020 613
(freecall) or visit the website www.health.gov.au/pbs
*Under current arrangements these amounts are adjusted in line with inflation on 1 January each year. Media inquiries: Michelle Low or Renee Hancock on (03) 9289 9555