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The Dangers of Polypharmacy

(about drug interaction, dependency, and consciousness)

In this day and age, there seems to be a pill for just about everything. A dangerous trend is happening in our society, in which more medication is being prescribed as more problems begin to occur in the body and the mind. Unfortunately, there are several consequences that may occur from using multiple medications for a variety of medical conditions at once. High cost, drug interactions, overwhelming responsibility for following medical directions, and addiction are just some of the dangers a person may face. Other symptoms associated with polypharmacy include balance and memory problems, causing a downward spiral of health with the possibility of injury due to falls, and the inability to carry out routine activities.

According to Kester Nedd, D.O. an associate professor in the Department of Neurology at the University Of Miami Miller School Of Medicine, "The rapid growth in pharmaceutical products, in order to meet the demands of consumers for instant cures, is driving the use of medication cocktails. Available pharmaceutical products present a bittersweet dilemma. On the one hand the medications available meet critical health care needs, but on the other hand can have negative impact on the outcome due to side effects, drug to drug interactions, idiosyncratic reactions, allergies, and medical decompensation in an otherwise uncomplicated body function."

A person dealing with multiple medical conditions and medications typically needs help with his or her care. Whether it's an aging parent, a sick sibling, or a friend in need, caretakers and care managers need to have a consciousness about health procedures and drug treatments. For example, with the use of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and sleep medications, it can become dangerous when mixed with antihypertensives, as well as alcohol. Prescriptions that contain opiates, like codeine, a drug used to help with moderate pain, coughing, and sometimes diarrhea, are highly addictive. Managing medications is a difficult task, but becomes especially difficult when dependency can easily become an issue.

The problem of polypharmacy in the aging population is only getting worse. The older a person gets, the more problems tend to arise in the body. The more problems that arise in the body, the more doctors and specialists need to be brought in for consultation and treatment. This almost always leads to the addition of more medication to an already growing list. This situation is cause for awareness, assessment and education. It is necessary to learn about the various doctors' treatments, medications prescribed, and how everything in the patient's care works together.

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Article courtesy of Feinberg Consulting

This Article is a reprint from Nostalgic America(TM) Magazine Vol.4 No.1.