Beware of Medications That Increase Risk for Dangerous Falls

The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) are advising individuals of medications that increase the risk of dangerous falls. Robin Lee, an expert in injury prevention at the CDC, projects  that “as the United States population continues to age, we can expect more deaths from falls.” He reports that “we can also expect more hospitalizations and nursing home admissions as a result of falls.” Because one in four adults age 65 and older falls each year in the U.S., it totals to 36 million seniors falling, resulting in 32,000 deaths each year. To prevent the risk, here is what you need to know.

Taking a medication that controls hypertension is a common cause of falls in older adults. If blood pressure drops too low, a person can become lightheaded upon standing and leading to a potentially dangerous fall. According to Harvard Health Publishing, however, there are many drugs that can increase the risk of falling.

The list includes:

 Benzodiazepines. These drugs are prescribed for anxiety or as sleep aids. The brand names include Xanax, Valium, and Ativan. Kernisan.

 Prescription sedatives. Sleep aids such as Lunesta, Sonata and Ambien.

 Sedating antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), are part of a group of drugs called anticholinergics, which work by blocking a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.  These antihistamines often used in over-the-counter sleep aids such as Nyquil, Sominex, and Unisom, and combined sleep and pain medications like Tylenol PM, Motrin PM, Advil PM, and Aleve PM.

 Prescription overactive bladder medications such as Ditropan and Detrol.

 Medications prescribed to treat depression and anxiety such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), brand names Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac and Paxil, as well as tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil, can increase the risk of falling.

 Narcotics and opioids that contain codeine and hydrocodone, Percodan, and Percocet. Both contain oxycodone, and Duragesic containing fentanyl.

* Always take your prescription medication as directed by your doctor. Never stop taking medications without consulting them first. 

NEXT: How to Prevent Falling at ANY AGE