How Do I Know if I Am Overmedicated?
Being overmedicated can be a serious problem. Different drugs interact with one another and cause side effects that range from the annoying to downright deadly. Overmedication occurs frequently in the elderly, who often take a range of medications for various conditions. Medications are sometimes prescribed for symptoms that result from side effects of other medications. This is possible especially if the patient sees multiple doctors: a particular physician may not pay close enough attention to the medications the patient is already on and may not consider possible drug interactions.
Signs of Being Overmedicated
There are an enormous number of reactions that may result from being overmedicated. Naturally, the first sign that you are overmedicated is that you take a large number of different medications. If that is the case and you notice new or unusual symptoms, they may result from a drug interaction. There are a variety of symptoms that may result from drug interactions. However, generally speaking signs and symptoms of being overmedicated are as follows:
- Excessive sleepiness
- Lack of coordination
- Lack of balance
- Repeated falls
- Problems with memory
- Repetitive movements
- Mood swings
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in appetite
If you struggle with these issues, being overmedicated may be the cause.
How to Avoid Being Overmedicated
The best way to avoid being overmedicated is to know about the medications you are taking and to make sure your doctor is aware of all the medications you are on. If you are overmedicated you may want to reevaluate your drug intake and reduce the number of medications you take, especially the ones that treat side effects of other medications. Your doctor may wish to try alternative medications to avoid problems.
Here are some specific suggestions for learning about your drug intake and avoiding overmedication:
- Make a list of all the medications you are currently taking and the dosage amounts, including over-the-counter drugs, supplements and natural, herbal or homeopathic medicines
- Take the list with you to every doctor’s appointment and make sure that your doctors are aware of every drug you are taking
- Consult your pharmacist about possible drug interactions as they are quite knowledgeable about drugs and drug interactions
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist to perform a comprehensive medication review
- Research the drugs you are on and become more educated about side effects and possible drug interactions
- Use one pharmacy for all your prescriptions
If you follow these precautions and still think you are overmedicated, talk to a medical professional immediately.
What to Do If I am Overmedicated?
Being overmedicated is a serious problem. It is possible that some of your medications are unnecessary and may cause more harm than good. If you have any questions about medications you are taking and possible drug interactions, or if you would like a referral for a medication evaluation, call our toll-free helpline. Counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have.