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
- Physical weakness
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
- Robert William Heol, PharmD, Ryan M. Giddings Connolly, MD, Paul Y. Takahashi, MD, “Polypharmacy Management in Older Patients,” Mayor Clinic Proceedings 96 (January 2021: 242–256), accessed April 8, 2021, doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2020.06.012.
- “Polypharmacy Management in Older Patients.”
- “Polypharmacy,” University of Florida Health, last accessed April 30, 2021, , opens new window
Taking your medications as directed
Taking your medicine as directed is an important step in staying healthy. Here are helpful tips to keep your medicine filled and on schedule, plus reminders on why this is important.
If you are age 65 or older, you should take special care when taking your medicine, even though you may feel perfectly healthy.
Tips for avoiding dangerous drug interactions
Drug interactions can make your medicine less effective, cause unexpected side effects or be harmful to your health.
Contact your doctor or pharmacist
What you can do to decrease your risk
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned about the drugs you’re taking, and keep your doctors and pharmacists informed about all the prescription and over-the-counter drugs you take.