SENIORS LEARN TO AVOID DRUG REACTIONS

Sep 23rd, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

Avoiding drug reactions is necessary for senior citizens to protect themselves and their good health.  Patricia Barry writes for AARP regularly, and offers seniors a lot of good advice about health issues.  In the September, 2011, AARP Bulletin, she has an excellent article on The Side Effects of Side Effects.  With tens of millions of people suffering the effects of drug interactions and reactions, seniors need to take heed.

Barry offers seniors the following suggestions to avoid drug reactions; SCJ has made some elaborations and additions to Barry’s tips:

  • Tell your primary care physician (PCP) if you experience a change that doesn’t feel right.  It could be just getting used to the medication (if it is newly prescribed) or it could be a drug reaction.  You don’t know, and you need communication with your PCP.
  • Ask your pharmacist or PCP to review your medications at least once a year. Be sure to include the vitamins and supplements you take.  An expert needs to take a look at what is going in to your body to be sure the chemicals are not interacting with each other in a negative way.
  • Ask your PCP if, instead of taking a drug, there is something you can do with your lifestyle to effect a positive change. A number of senior-related illnesses (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease) can be treated with changes in diet, exercise, losing weight and stopping smoking, instead of taking pills.
  • Ask your PCP for medication prescriptions with drugs that have been on the market for at least seven years. Why?  Some drug reaction don’t show up in the first year or two.  If the drug has been around for 5-10 years, the reactions are more likely to be documented.  Your PCP will know what the research says about reactions.
  • Ask your PCP why she/he is prescribing a medication. Ask questions when your physician pulls out the prescription pad.  Why is the drug being prescribed?  What are the side effects?  Are there other options?  You need to participate with your PCP in taking care of your health.
  • Don’t try to treat yourself by stopping a medication without talking with your PCP. Drugs are chemicals that cause certain things to happen in your body.  Stopping the med can be harmful, and you shouldn’t do it.
  • Use Internet resources to get information about your medications. AARP has a drug interaction checker.  Other online websites offer information about drug interactions; use the phrase ‘drug interaction check’ in your browser window and options for reviewing your medications online will pop up.

You are a partner with your PCP in taking care of your health.  Be sure you do your part!



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