Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in deaths related to overdoses of prescribed medication, with an emphasis on painkillers, sedatives, stimulants and related drugs.
But there’s another, growing concern: polypharmacy, or taking multiple medications simultaneously.
Risk for negative interactions increases 6 percent for someone taking two medications per day to 50 percent for those taking five medications per day.
Polypharmacy can occur at any age but the impact is greatest among the elderly.
While people over 65 account for 15 percent of the population, they consume about 30 percent of all medications prescribed and 40 percent of over-the-counter medications.
This demographic takes an average of four to five prescribed drugs and two over-the-counter drugs at any given time. Since it’s anticipated both the elderly population and its lifespan will increase in the future, the problem will only intensify.
Not long ago, many of today’s over-the-counter medications were available only by prescription. However, just because you can buy it over the counter doesn’t mean that it can’t be harmful.