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As we get older, we may find ourselves taking more medications. It's not a given that this will happen, but according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adults over age 65 buy 30 percent of all prescription drugs and 40 percent of all over-the-counter drugs.
The use of medications as we get older can cause problems we don't anticipate. One of the most dangerous is potential drug interactions. Again, although not every older adult is taking multiple medications, many are. The FDA says an older person is likely to be taking more than four prescription medications at once plus two over-the-counter medications. All of this raises the possibility that some of those drugs will interact with each other.
The National Institute on Aging says it's essential to talk with your doctor before combining medications with each other, because of all the possible interactions. Our MEDICAL HISTORY FORM can help. This form contains the type of information your doctor needs to determine if there will be any potential problems with medications he/she may prescribe.
Simply click on the link for the form. You can fill out this form online and either save it or print it. To save, click the "Save" icon, name the form, and save to either your computer hard drive, other storage device. To print, use the "Print" button. The information you enter will NOT be saved anywhere else once the window is closed. This is to protect your privacy. When you're done, simply close the form window and continue using our site.
The form can help you tell your doctor about specifics in your medical history that are important. For example, blood-thinning medication combined with aspirin may thin the blood more than is desirable. As another example, antacids can interfere with certain drugs for Parkinson's disease (Read about "Parkinson's Disease"), high blood pressure and heart disease (Read about "Coronary Heart Disease"). It's not just physical either. Combinations of drugs can also produce mental changes as well, leading to confusion, lethargy or depression.
If someone suspects that their medications are causing problems, they should not stop taking them on their own, but contact their doctor at once. It's also important that doctors be aware of all the drugs a patient may be taking right from the start. For example, according to the American Heart Association, certain medications can raise blood pressure; therefore, anyone who develops high blood pressure should make sure they tell their doctor about any prescribed and/or over-the-counter medicines they're taking, such as steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), nasal decongestants and other cold remedies, diet pills, antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
And just because a product is herbal (Read about "Herbal Precautions"), doesn't mean it's necessarily safe for you to take. For example, the American Academy of Family Physicians says ginkgo biloba can cause potential problems if used with aspirin (Read about "Aspirin and Heart"), warfarin and other drugs; St. John's wort should not be used if you're taking an antidepressant. Other herbal remedies also carry potential risks.
Because of all the possible combinations, it's essential to take precautions. Here are some other suggestions from the FDA:
Of course, taking drugs in combination is sometimes a necessity. High blood pressure, for example, may require the use of several different drugs. (Read about "High Blood Pressure") Many older people have multiple problems and may need multiple drugs to treat these problems. Unless supervised by a doctor, however, taking some mixtures of drugs can be dangerous, so always check with your doctor first.
All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
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