Medications Seniors Should Use With Caution

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD

WEBMD – It’s no secret that when you get older, your body doesn’t work the way it used to. Ask your doctor about the impact of your meds as you age.

Over-the-Counter Painkillers

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen, can keep some prescription medications you take from working the way they should. They’re often not a good combo with blood thinners, diabetes drugs, diuretics, or blood pressure drugs. NSAIDs are also rough on major organs when your body gets older, such as your kidneys, liver, heart, and the digestive system.

Muscle Relaxants

Your doctor may suggest these drugs to ease muscle spasms. Muscle relaxants like cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), methocarbamol (Robaxin), and carisoprodol (Soma) can have side effects like feeling woozy and confused. That could raise your chances of falling and hurting yourself.

Certain Diabetes Drugs

Long-acting sulfonylurea drugs for diabetes, such as chlorpropamide (Diabinese) and glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase), can cause low blood sugar, a condition called “hypoglycemia.”

You might get confused, shaky, sweaty, hungry, and tired. If the condition is severe or long-lasting, it can cause seizures and, in rare cases, could be life-threatening.


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If you have hay fever, your doctor may suggest over-the-counter drugs called antihistamines. They can keep you from sneezing, but some come with more side effects than others. Some antihistamines may leave older adults extra drowsy and confused, which raises your chances of a taking a tumble.

Certain Sleep Aids

Drugs that help you go to sleep can cause problems when you wake up. You might feel groggy and have trouble with balance when you get out of bed in the morning. Your ability to think clearly might be affected.

Diphenhydramine, the main ingredient in many sleeping pills, can also lead to dry mouth, blurred vision, and bladder problems.

Anxiety Medication

Benzodiazepines are drugs that treat anxiety. They include diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and chlordiazepoxide (Librium).

Some of these medications stick around in your system a lot longer than others. Their side effects, like confusion, can last past the day you take them and raise your chances of falling …

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