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Prescription drugs' side effects are especially dangerous for the elderly

Monday, July 16, 2012 by: Luella May
Tags: prescription drugs, side effects, elderly

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(NaturalNews) We live in a world full of drugs whose primary objective is to relieve symptoms instead of heal. Most of these drugs come with side effects, some of which may be quite dangerous. That is especially true when it comes to drugs prescribed for the elderly who are the largest consumers of prescription and over the counter drugs.

When waiting to see a doctor, it is common to share the waiting room with prescription drug salespeople with suitcases full of the latest "drugs of choice." Too many doctors get their drug education from these salespeople who often have no medical background. The end result is that when we go to the doctor, whether to address a specific condition or for a routine check-up, more often than not, we come out of the office with one or more prescriptions.

Prescribing medications to treat several health conditions can actually result in side effects that can make problems worse. A side effect doesn't necessarily have to make itself known when first taking a medication. There is a greater chance of experiencing side effects the longer a drug is taken.

Drug side effects and the elderly

Researchers in Britain have found that commonly used drugs prescribed to half of those that are 65 or older lead to an increased incidence of death and mental health decline, especially when the drugs are prescribed in combination. The researchers' findings, which was published in the August 2011 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, suggest that these types of drugs negatively affect the brain and increase the risk of decline and death. The study found that patients taking a combination of prescription drugs were at greater risk.

Elderly people take approximately three times the amount of medications that younger people do. Although the elderly are prescribed a wide array of drugs, the most common drugs are heart medications, statins, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants.

Drugs that treat the cardiovascular system can result in nausea, vomiting, weight loss, anorexia, and bleeding problems. Statins' side effects include muscle weakness and pain (the most serious that can be life threatening), headaches, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, skin rash, and general weakness.

Benzodiazepines can result in sedation, confusion, and falls. The side effects of antidepressants include sedation, confusion, falls, low blood pressure, and urinary retention. Antidepressants also thin the blood. They decrease blood clotting capacity, increasing the risk for stomach and uterine bleeding. Add over the counter NSAID's taken at the same time and the risk doubles.

Other common drugs' side effects

Other commonly prescribed drugs also have a host of potentially harmful side effects. Examples include:

* Antipsychotic medications that are used to treat "mental disorders" can result in confusion, sedation, low blood pressure, falls, urinary retention, Parkinsonism (involuntary shaking and twitching), and tardive dyskinesia (repetitive body movements)

* Antihistamines used to treat allergies can result in confusion, sedation, low blood pressure, falls, sleep disturbance, and urinary retention

* Drugs that relieve nausea can lead to confusion, sedation, low blood pressure, falls, urinary retention, Parkinsonism, and tardive dyskinesia

* Pain medication can result in constipation, confusion, & sedation. Even over the counter medications can result in serious liver and gastrointestinal side effects.

* Drugs to treat Parkinson's disease can result in confusion, dizziness, low blood pressure, and an increase in cardiovascular toxicity

* Drugs to relieve muscle spasms can result in dry mouth, constipation, urinary retention, and delirium

* Urinary incontinence drugs can result in dry mouth, constipation, urinary retention, delirium, and confusion

All of these side effects relate to individual drugs. Imagine how these side effects can be compounded by taking several prescription drugs at a time.

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13880553
http://www.netwellness.uc.edu/healthtopics/aging/faq16.cfm
http://www.tbyil.com/Elderly_Dangerous_Drugs.htm

About the author:
Luella May is a natural health advocate helping people to heal naturally. She partners with Tony Isaacs, who authors books and articles about natural health including "Cancer's Natural Enemy" and "Collected Remedies" Luella contributes to The Best Years in Life website for baby boomers and others wishing to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Luella co-moderates the CureZone "Ask Tony Isaacs featuring Luella May" forum as well as the Yahoo Health Group "Oleander Soup" and hosts her own yahoo group focusing on the natural wellbeing of pets "The Best Years in Life Natural Health for Pets"

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