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June 1, 2015

Steps For Juggling Multiple Medications

We take medicines to have a positive effect on our health and they often do. There’s no doubt that modern medicines allow us to live healthier, longer lives. And yet, medicines can also have a downside; especially if you take more than one.

Mixed-up Medicines
On average, one in five adults ages 65 and older treats one condition that may negatively impact another health issue, according to new study published in PLoS ONE. For example, medications for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease could further weaken thinning bones. Additionally, heart medicines could also trigger a relapse in depression. These risks will only increase as adults continue to take multiple medications, states a study in the Journal of Comorbidity.
Furthermore, certain medications can negatively interact with specific food, supplements or over-the-counter drugs. For example, some medicines can cause drowsiness when mixed with alcohol, while others can lose their potency when taken with dairy or grapefruit juice. Certain medications can also cause harmful side effects when combined with herbal supplements.

What You Can Do
There’s a lot you can do to make sure your medicines are doing what they’re supposed to improve your health. The most important thing is to take an active role in your health care. Here’s how:

  • Know your medicines-Keep an up-to-date list of all your medicines. It should include over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and other supplements. Keep a copy with you and ask your doctor to review it at every visit.
  • Ask questions-Each time your doctor prescribes a new drug, ask what it is for, how it works and how to use it. You should also ask about possible side effects when combined with other medicines, food or drink.
  • Fill all your prescriptions at one pharmacy-When your pharmacist knows all the medicines you’re taking, he or she can alert you about any dangerous drug combinations.
  • Save written materials-Read and save any printed materials that come with your medicines. 

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