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Pain medication and senior citizens: How to stay on the safe side

Pain medication and senior citizens: How to stay on the safe side

Health & Lifestyle Manipal Hospitals Health Library   ¦    Jul 17, 2017 11:16:09 AM (IST)
Pain medication and senior citizens: How to stay on the safe side

Old age and health conditions too often go hand in hand, and seniors are the group that is most frequently prescribed medication to. However, medication when taken without proper understanding, is bound to add to complications instead of resolving them.

Too often, medications may actually have been prescribed as a symptomatic relief, rather than as a cure. This leads to irregular bodily reactions which can be especially dangerous as we age. Noting this issue, Ibuprofen and other painkillers are known as NSAIDs are being prescribed only under extreme conditions to seniors, according to an announcement by the American Geriatric Society (AGS).

Why Should You Worry?

 Many painkillers prescribed for common ailments have also been observed to increase the risk of a heart attack, especially within the first month of taking high doses. Similarly, a study was done by the University of Milano-Bicocca, widely used prescription and non-prescription painkillers are associated with an increased risk of hospital admission for heart failure.

To provide perspective, several of the most commonly prescribed drugs are among the most to alleviate pain and inflammation were introduced over a century ago with minimal safety checks. These are commonly prescribed to senior citizens for pain arising from neuropathic (nerve) pain disorders, joint, muscle, and bone disorders such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, gout, back and neck problems, chronic headaches and muscle aches and pain.

Have A Serious Chat With Your Doctor

Medication for seniors is a complicated situation that requires utmost care and complete understanding.

It is essential to consult a trusted physician and understand individual bodies and possible allergic reactions before beginning such medication course.

How can your healthcare provider help?
* Your healthcare provider will select a specific medication and decide the best mode of medicating.

* Around-the-clock doses of medication (Tylenol®, for example) may work better that medication that requires frequent administration.

Other medications are better when taken “as needed”, in situations that demand painful activity or to manage pain.

Older persons are often more sensitive to the effects of medications, which can be helpful or unpleasant (side effects). Your healthcare provider will start you on a lower dose first. An important rule of prescribing pain medication for older persons is to “start low and go slow,” and then makes modifications if necessary.

Sometimes, combining low doses of two different medications (for example) will be more helpful than a higher dose of just one medication. This may mitigate chances of burdening the liver.

Always Report Any Side Effects

It is very important that you discuss any side effects you experience with your doctor immediately. Often, some of the most serious side effects are caused by non-prescription medications. Care should be taken with the consumption of medication. Some need to consumed on an empty stomach while others should be consumed with a meal. Timing is also of the essence, since some medication is to be taken before bed.

If you are a senior citizen, or caring for one, always ensure that these steps are followed for safe usage of prescription drugs. May you live long and prosper!

Did you find this article helpful? You might also want to check out these amazing life hacks with one of the simplest pain medications out there—Dispirin!