The Alliance for Advanced Health is intended to provide cutting-edge health information.
Nothing on this site should be interpreted as personal medical advice. Always consult with your doctor before changing anything related to your healthcare.

[Alert] This Medical Mistake KILLS Millions

Pharmaceutical drugs come with side effects.

Everyone knows that.

Side effects are one thing, but medication mistakes alone kill 1.5 million Americans every year. And seniors are especially at risk.

Before blindly having that next prescription filled, take a look at the six most dangerous classes of drugs for seniors.

Then you can make a truly informed decision for your health.

As you get older, your body changes. Certain systems in your body don’t work as well—and that can make certain medications even more dangerous than for some middle-aged.

If you have reduced renal function, for example, you won’t be able to clear the drug from your system as well… which can lead to all sorts of problems.

Drugs can also cause cognitive changes, delirium, constipation, urinary retention, and more.

Here are six classes of drugs that are especially problematic for seniors—plus safer alternatives to consider.

Problem drug: Diabetes drugs that have a long half-life (meaning they stay in the body longer) like Diabinese can cause prolonged hypoglycemia. This low blood sugar condition can cause confusion, heart palpitations, shakiness, and anxiety.

Better alternative: A shorter-acting drug-like Glucotrol.

Problem drug: Anticholinergic antihistamines like Benadryl can cause confusion, dry mouth, urinary retention, cognitive impairment, and delirium. It also takes longer for older individuals to remove it from the body.

Better alternative: If you’re struggling with allergy symptoms, reach for Allegra or Claritin instead.

Problem drug: Muscle relaxers like Flexeril and Robaxin can cause similar anticholinergic effects as the ones I just mentioned.

Better alternative: In this situation, try skipping drugs altogether and opting for physical therapy, ergonomics, or applying heat/cold instead.

Problem drug: Benzodiazepines like Valium can cause cognitive impairment and delirium in older individuals. They can also cause an unsteady gait, increasing the risk of falls and fractures…which increases the risk of death.

Better alternative: If you’re experiencing anxiety, try a drug-free alternative like behavioral therapy or yoga.

When it comes to drugs, sometimes your best option is to choose the lesser of evils.

The most important part is to know the risks, know your options, and to make the best, most informed decision for your health.