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Jenny's Featured Updates

Four Ways to Avoid Dangerous Overmedication

Health Minute     Summer 2019
4 Ways to Avoid Overmedication large

It’s been called “America’s other drug problem.” Overmedication and potentially dangerous drug interaction is an increasing and potentially dangerous problem. Nearly a quarter of Americans used three or more prescription drugs, and 12 percent used five or more, according to 2016 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control asking about prescription drug use over the past 30 days.

Overmedication can happen when your doctors, specialists, hospital physicians and pharmacists don’t pay attention to the drugs you’re already taking before prescribing something new. The problem is especially prevalent among the elderly. In a study at the UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center, researchers found that geriatric patients, on average, were taking 14 different medications. In some instances, the result can be life-threatening.

Overmedication can happen when your doctors, specialists, hospital physicians and pharmacists don’t pay attention to the drugs you’re already taking before prescribing something new.

Here’s What You Can Do to Stay Safe

4 Ways to Avoid Overmedication small

1. Keep a list of every medication you take, including dosage and frequency. Include over-the-counter medications and vitamins. Review the list with your doctor at every visit. Your pharmacist is the expert on drug interactions; show your list to your pharmacist on your next trip. If you’re a caregiver for someone else, follow these instructions for that person as well as yourself.

2. At every visit ask your doctor: 

  • Am I taking the correct dosage? 
  • What should I do if I miss a dose? 
  • Should this medication be taken with food or water? 
  • Can I lower the dose or discontinue taking this medication?  
  • Is there another remedy available to me besides taking this medication?

3. Know these signs of overmedication and contact your doctor if you experience any of the signs or notice any sudden changes in behavior (yours or someone you care for):

  • Drowsiness 
  • Physical complications like dry mouth and ulcers
  • Confusion
  • Withdrawal from family or friends
  • Hallucinations
  • Dizziness or falls
  • Fractures
  • Seizures

4.  Know the facts about antipsychotic drugs.  Nursing home residents are sometimes prescribed them to suppress anxiety or agitation common with dementia. But these serious drugs should be reserved for serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

They can result in delirium, heart failure or death. They often don’t change the behavior of dementia because the drugs don’t directly address what the person is attempting to communicate to caregivers. If your loved one has been prescribed antipsychotics, ask: Why has the drug been prescribed? What alternative remedies can be tried? What is the plan to decrease or stop using the drug?

Jenny's Latest Updates

Four Ways to Avoid Dangerous Overmedication

Health Minute     Summer 2019
4 Ways to Avoid Overmedication large

It’s been called “America’s other drug problem.” Overmedication and potentially dangerous drug interaction is an increasing and potentially dangerous problem. Nearly a quarter of Americans used three or more prescription drugs, and 12 percent used five or more, according to 2016 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control asking about prescription drug use over the past 30 days.

Overmedication can happen when your doctors, specialists, hospital physicians and pharmacists don’t pay attention to the drugs you’re already taking before prescribing something new. The problem is especially prevalent among the elderly. In a study at the UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center, researchers found that geriatric patients, on average, were taking 14 different medications. In some instances, the result can be life-threatening.

Overmedication can happen when your doctors, specialists, hospital physicians and pharmacists don’t pay attention to the drugs you’re already taking before prescribing something new.

Here’s What You Can Do to Stay Safe

4 Ways to Avoid Overmedication small

1. Keep a list of every medication you take, including dosage and frequency. Include over-the-counter medications and vitamins. Review the list with your doctor at every visit. Your pharmacist is the expert on drug interactions; show your list to your pharmacist on your next trip. If you’re a caregiver for someone else, follow these instructions for that person as well as yourself.

2. At every visit ask your doctor: 

  • Am I taking the correct dosage? 
  • What should I do if I miss a dose? 
  • Should this medication be taken with food or water? 
  • Can I lower the dose or discontinue taking this medication?  
  • Is there another remedy available to me besides taking this medication?

3. Know these signs of overmedication and contact your doctor if you experience any of the signs or notice any sudden changes in behavior (yours or someone you care for):

  • Drowsiness 
  • Physical complications like dry mouth and ulcers
  • Confusion
  • Withdrawal from family or friends
  • Hallucinations
  • Dizziness or falls
  • Fractures
  • Seizures

4.  Know the facts about antipsychotic drugs.  Nursing home residents are sometimes prescribed them to suppress anxiety or agitation common with dementia. But these serious drugs should be reserved for serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

They can result in delirium, heart failure or death. They often don’t change the behavior of dementia because the drugs don’t directly address what the person is attempting to communicate to caregivers. If your loved one has been prescribed antipsychotics, ask: Why has the drug been prescribed? What alternative remedies can be tried? What is the plan to decrease or stop using the drug?

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