If you’re taking multiple medications at the same time, you should know that certain combinations may cause unwanted and even harmful side effects.1

Adults over age 65 are more likely to use a combination of over-the-counter and prescription medications to treat multiple conditions. Taking 5 or more medications is generally referred to as “polypharmacy.”2 This can lead to a higher risk of experiencing harmful side effects from medications.

Potential problems associated with taking multiple medications include:3

  • Increased risk of falls
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Physical weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

Helpful tips that may help you manage your medications:

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist what any new medication is for
  • Try to use only 1 pharmacy, and keep your pharmacist informed about all your prescription medicines and any over-the-counter medications you are taking
  • Pay attention to possible side effects and talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have concerns
  • Store your medications safely and discard unused doses
  • Do not share your medications with anyone
  • Take medications only as prescribed


  1. “Polypharmacy Management in Older Patients,” National Library of Medicine, last accessed July 7, 2023, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33413822/, opens new window
  2. “Polypharmacy Management in Older Patients.”
  3. “Polypharmacy,” University of Florida Health, last accessed July 7, 2023, https://ufhealth.org/polypharmacy, opens new window

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