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The Risk of Mixing Prescription Drugs

risks of mixing prescription drugs

Mental Health Awareness for Seniors

Prescription drugs have been around for years and have saved many lives. However, just because your doctor prescribed them to you doesn’t mean they’re safe or that you should mix medications from different doctors. When a patient follows their doctor’s orders, the risk of mixing prescription drugs may seem low. Nevertheless, the danger can be very real, which is why health care professionals need to guide patients in selecting the right medication. They need to ensure that medicines chosen for a particular condition will not interfere with others.

Compared to any other age group, older adults aged 65 and above tend to take more medicine due to the possibility of more than one disease or other health concern concurrently. It can be challenging and expensive to handle multiple medications, especially if you are homebound or live in a rural area. Moreover, using a lot of medicines can lead to:

  • Adverse reactions or side effects (please read the directions attached to your prescription)
  • Drug interactions – two or more drugs might not work well together, causing problems

Mixing prescription drugs can have serious consequences, including:

  1. Confusion or memory loss
  2. Severe allergic reactions
  3. Heart attack or stroke
  4. Coma and/or death
  5. Overdose
  6. Minor and major side effects
    • Minor side effects include headaches or dry mouth.
    • In severe cases, bleeding or irreversible damage to the liver or kidneys may occur, affecting driving and possibly causing accidents.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 7 out of 10 adults aged 40–79 used at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days (69.0%), and around 1 out of 5 used at least five prescription drugs (22.4%). Adults aged 60 to 79 are most likely to use lipid-lowering medications, antidiabetic drugs, and beta-blockers.

Medication prescribed by a physician has many benefits. They alleviate pain, treat epilepsy, control blood pressure and cholesterol, fight cancer, and more. These powerful drugs are often life-saving for people suffering from various ailments and conditions. But along with the positive effects, prescription medications, as mentioned above, also carry significant risks when not taken properly.

The following measures should follow to reduce the risk of harm from adverse drug events in adults:

  • Be sure to keep a medication list
  • Always follow directions
  • Ask questions whenever necessary
  • Participate in any blood testing recommended by your physician
  • Be sure to take all medications as prescribed

Maintaining a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications is essential. You may use a Worksheet to help you track your medical records or ask your family member to track them. If you start a new prescription, write down its name and why it’s needed. Take note of any special instructions for taking the drug.

Mixing prescription drugs is a serious matter. It can cause short or long-term harm to your health.

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