Have you felt unsteady lately? Did you start on any new medications? Do you wonder if your medication is affecting your balance?
There are certain medications that can increase your risk for falling, especially for older adults. Falls can be detrimental to your health and independence especially as you get older. Managing your medications is a key element to fall prevention.
Any medication that makes you dizzy or drowsy can increase your chance of falling.
Since most drugs have the potential side effects of dizziness and drowsiness the list of medications that can increase the risk of falls is not a short one. So how do you know which medications might affect your balance?
There are 3 categories of drugs that more commonly place older adults at higher risk of falling.
- Psychoactive Drugs
Psychoactive medications are drugs prescribed to reduce or eliminate the suffering caused by psychological conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, psychosis, and bipolar affective disorder.
Sedatives or hypnotics are drugs that depress or slow down the body’s functions. They are used for a variety of medical purposes to promote calm or sleep. They are sometimes used as anticonvulsants and muscle relaxants.
Do not forget sedatives used over the counter that increase risk of falls such as Tylenol PM, Benadryl, and Nyquil.
- Blood Pressure Medications
Blood pressure medications are most commonly prescribed to lower your blood pressure to prevent a heart attack or stroke.
If you start any medications in the above categories, be extra careful to watch out for signs of dizziness, decreased balance, and blurred vision. Call your doctor immediately if you notice any side effects.
When you start taking the medication, take extra precautions.
- Make sure you home is setup with a safe environment. Remove any obstacles, throw rugs, or cords in your walking paths.
- Make sure you have adequate lighting when you are up moving around.
- Pay particular attention to changes in position, especially if you are on any blood pressure medication. When you first get up from a lying position, sit a few seconds. From a sitting to standing position, make sure you stand a few seconds before starting to walk.
- If you are able, record your blood pressure and heart rate several times a day.
The important thing to remember is to discuss the possible side effects of all your medications with your doctor, especially any new medications prescribed to you.
Make sure your doctor is aware of all the prescribed medication you are taking including any supplements and over the counter medications. Some medications by themselves don’t put you at high risk for falls but combined with other medication can increase your risk of falling.
The other important thing to know is DO NOT stop taking your medications without consulting your doctor first. If you have any side effects from medications call your doctor right away. Your doctor prescribed the medication for a specific reason and if you just stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor you may be putting yourself at risk for other complications, including a stroke or heart attack.
Be proactive with your health. Know what medications you are taking, know why you are taking them, and know the possible side effects.
Happy Day! Here’s to Helping You Stay Safe and Healthy!