By J. Manuel Cordova, M. D.
Internal Medicine & Geriatric Specialist
Medicine For The Aging
Get the most benefit with the least risk from your medications and your provider. As you age, your body becomes more sensitive to medicines. Most older adults are likely to take multiple medicines at the same time. How your body responds to certain medications may be different than another person. It’s important for you to know what is normal & what results you should expect.
One medicine may cause side effects and create problems if taken with other medicines. One medicine may also increase or decrease the effect of another. What you eat or drink while taking certain medications can make a difference as well.
The more medicines you take, the more likely the possibililty of having problems….Never take a medicine because a friend took it and got good results. Always ask your physician. ….Always take your medicine in the proper dosage and at the correct time. I advise my patients of the importance of timing & dosage, and with, or without, food.
If you’re taking antibiotics, it is very important to take them at the precise time prescribed to achieve best results. Don’t stop taking your antibiotics until they’re all gone, even though the symptoms may seem better.
Make a list of everything you take and keep a copy with you at all times. Include vitamins, supplements, herbs & non-prescription medications, as well. They can have major effects on the body and possibly cause problems if combined with certain other medications. Every time you visit your doctor, review the list and discuss it with him to make sure he’s in agreement. You can also ask your doctor if there are medicines, or other things you should avoid that may cause a problem if taken with certain medications. For example, if you’ve had heart failure or kidney disease you should not take ibuprofen (advil, motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Grapefruit juice is also known to cause problems with some medications and there are many other examples.
You know your symptoms & reactions to medications better than anyone. Document. Keep a Log of any changes you experience when you take, or don’t take, certain medications, food, drinks, etc. This will help your doctor very much in determining your prognosis and what recommendations to make. Even laboratory tests will not answer these questions for your doctor.
Not all doctors are qualified to evaluate and respond correctly to medication issues. Only a licensed medical doctor, preferably a licensed specialist in Internal Medicine and/or Geriatrics is the best if you’re over age 50. General Practice Doctors, Homeopathic and other non-related specialists are not trained or licensed in Internal Medicine or Geriatrics; yet, many providers will perform treatments or prescribe medications without the proper knowledge to fully understand the risk factors for the patient. Geriatric specialists understand the difference of dealing with problems unique to patients over 50.
As you age beyond your 40’s, your body needs and responds differently than a younger person. Medication prescribed for you, and your reaction to that medication, will be different than that of a younger person. In fact, the aging process and changes in body metabolism usually starts in your 30’s.