How many pills are too many?
Pills come in so many different colors, shapes and sizes.
They can improve your health, relieve pain, cure diseases, and treat life-threatening illnesses.
But when not used appropriately or effectively, they can cause a whole host of problems. And the more pills you take, the higher chance you have to get a drug you do not need, be prescribed a drug that is wrong for you, or take one that could cause dangerous drug interactions.
The Senior Services Program at Cy-Fair Hospital wants to help you understand more about the medicines you are taking, and this is especially important for seniors.
Half of adults over the age of 60 take three or more prescriptions on a regular basis. Ten percent of these people take seven or more drugs. Most drugs are medically necessary, especially when treating more than one chronic condition.
However, many drug combinations can decrease the effectiveness of one or both of the medications, cause side-effects, or even be life-threatening.
Certain antibiotics, for example, should not be taken with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs because that could increase the risk of potentially fatal kidney damage. Herbal supplements and vitamins also can cause bad reactions when taken with other medicines.
Echinacea can interact with immunosuppressants, such as cyclosporine, while calcium can impair the body's ability to absorb drugs.
The best way to avoid medication-related problems is to talk with your doctor about all the medicines you are taking currently.
If necessary, take all your pill bottles, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the-counter medications, with you to the doctor's office and ask for a medicine review to find out if:
Is the medicine really necessary and is it the most appropriate to treat the medical condition for which it has been given?
Will the medicine interact with any other medicine taken or another current medical condition?
Is the dosage correct?
Does this drug duplicate any other medication?
Is the drug meant for short-term or long-term use?
Is there a non-medical alternative for the drug?
If you receive care from more than one physician, it is important to inform each doctor about all your medications.
In addition, have prescriptions filled at one pharmacy. This allows the pharmacist to check for possible drug interactions.
If you develop side-effects from a medicine, do not stop taking it without first talking with your doctor. Stopping on your own could worsen the condition.
Your doctor may recommend that you taper off the drug gradually or take a substitute medication.
Approximately 50 drugs should be avoided by people aged 60 and over. Talking certain drugs can pose problems for seniors because as we age the liver does not metabolize drugs as efficiently and the kidneys do not eliminate drugs from the body as well.
These medications include certain sedatives, pain relievers, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, antihistamines, and muscle relaxers.
For more information about medications and interactions, talk with your doctor or call 800-681-2733 for a referral to a physician near you.
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