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Wyre Forest Clinical Commissioning Group

Dr Simon Rumley - health column

Simon Rumley

This month I would like to take a closer look at medication, both the benefits it brings but also the potential effects that taking too much medication can have.

There are more and more medications becoming available for doctors to prescribe every year. Our population is living longer and as people age they may end up on a growing list of tablets. Patients in their 90’s are no longer an unusual sight in the surgery, many of them remain fit and active and part of this is due to the availability of medications, without which patients would not reach such an impressive age.

However, it’s also important to highlight the possible adverse effects of these medications as all effective therapies have potential side effects. Parts of your body such as your kidneys, liver, blood and bones can be affected by medication. Also the more medication a patient is on, the greater the risk of negative effects, as not only can each medication cause side effects but combining drugs can increase the risks further.

As we become older our bodies don’t work as well as when we were 21. Parts of our bodies such as our kidneys slow down and are not as efficient, meaning they are at a greater risk of any drug causing damage. We often lose weight as we get very old and may not need as much of the medication that we’ve been taking previously.

Your doctor may talk to you about your medication in a medication review. Part of this review might involve reducing the dose of a medication or even stopping one or more of them. This is to make sure you’re on the right drugs at the correct doses. Most importantly the benefit of the drug must be greater than the harm it may cause.

More information about medication can be found on the NHS Choices website www.nhs.uk