Thursday, February 10, 2011

When Medications Don't Sit Well

According to a health alert from Johns Hopkins University, about half of all Americans older than 65 take five or more medications daily. A fourth of them take 10 to 12 pills per day.

Caregivers must be alert to any adverse effects that can result from "drug-drug interactions," when one medication affects the way another medication works or compounds its effects. This is particularly an issue for older adults (both Baby Boomer caregivers and their loved ones) who process medications less efficiently as they age and are at greater risk of adverse side effects.

Some indications that your drugs aren’t mixing well include:

  • rash
  • fever
  • diarrhea
  • mild difficulty breathing
  • rapid or slow heartbeat
  • dizziness
  • unusual drowsiness

"The best way to protect yourself is to establish a relationship with a primary care physician who can regularly review all your medications, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements. This is especially important if you take four or more drugs, have three or more medical conditions, or receive prescriptions from more than one doctor," according to the health alert.