Elderly Americans tend to take more and more medications. One as a diuretic, one for high blood pressure, and one to help someone sleep at night. Moreover, the chronic lower back pain that they struggle with means that they have to use a pain patch. Add in the fish oil capsule, a multi-vitamin supplement, and a baby aspirin and you might begin to see that some people are simply taking “too much.” We want to let you know that sometimes, you have to be careful with what you are putting in your body.
What exactly are supplements?
Dietary supplements include herbs, minerals, vitamins, and other substances that you consume to take in additional vitamins and minerals in addition to the food that we consume. These can come in bars, drinks, powders, or pill form. You can find supplements in many different locations, including e-commerce sites on the Internet, health food stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies.
Even though supplements are OK for normal, healthy adults, sometimes specific drug interactions can lead to supplements making certain types of medication not work as well as it should, or not at all. Supplements are used to treat specific conditions, but they may also cause side effects, including difficulty breathing, seizures, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea.
Be safe – ask your doctor
If you or your loved one is already receiving more than one medication, it is a good idea to ask a doctor if a specific supplement could lead to problems. We have narrowed down a number of different questions that you want to ask your doctor:
- What are the risks and benefits with the supplement that you are considering?
- Is it possible that the supplement would interfere with currently taken medications? How would this affect the existing health conditions?
- If it is OK to take the supplement, what should the dosage be and how often should the supplement be taken? Can the supplement be taken indefinitely or is there a specific duration?
- What (if any) side effects should the user be aware of?
Even though supplements are often a smart, healthy option, it is important to understand that elderly patients have different needs than young adults. This is why it is always important to check on whether a specific supplement could lead to problems with currently taken medication.