Close this search box.

6 OTC Meds That Might Be Risky for Those over 50

OTC medications are quite popular, and this is why drug stores became what they are today. Maybe you have a headache or you experience heartburn from acid reflux, and you will probably take a pill and everything will be alright. But you should know that there are some OTC meds that might be risky, especially for those over 50.

According to research, adverse drug responses resulting from over-the-counter drugs generate over 178,000 hospital admissions annually, with those 65 and older being particularly susceptible to this.

Learn about some meds that you should be cautious about. They are usually found in the bathroom cabinets of most Americans, but they are not as safe as we believe they are.

OTC meds that might be risky
Photo by fizkes from Shutterstock

Why are those over 50 more susceptible?

First of all, those who take five or more prescription drugs per day are those who are over 50. According to a study led by the Lown Institute, since you take more pills, there is also a higher chance of experiencing adverse effects. Also, the more drugs you take, the higher the chances of getting those drug-drug interactions.

Another reason is all about the changes your body goes through once you get older. The whole process that your body uses to get rid of the drugs slows down, and because your body gains fat and loses muscles, you will hold on to medication in a different way than you used to.

Another specific factor is the function of your organs. As you age, your kidneys are not that efficient at getting rid of waste products from medications, and the liver also breaks down chemicals much slower.

1. Oxybutynin

Oxytrol for Women, or oxybutynin, is an OTC medication that is used for treating overactive bladders. People like it because it is an extremely convenient solution to a pretty common problem.

Generally, those who take this medication are over 50, but you should know that oxybutynin is one of the OTC meds that might be risky, especially for seniors. Another thing that you should be aware of is that the medication that is prescribed for men requires a prescription. Yes, there are two versions, one for men and one for women.

But even if this is an OTC medication, you still need to be careful. Some of the most common side effects are dry mouth, dizziness, and constipation. Maybe this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but depending on whether you have preexisting conditions or not, this may be dangerous.

Oxybutynin is a member of the anticholinergic drug class, which is likewise associated with an increased risk of dementia in the elderly.

2. Diphenhydramine or Benadryl

If you suffer from allergies, then you know about Benadryl. This is an OTC drug that is used for allergy treatment, but more often, you find it in a lot of OTC sleep products. Some of them are Advil PM, Tylenol PM, and Zzzquil.

If you know that you have sleep problems, it is a good idea to avoid medications that contain diphenhydramine. This is especially true if you are a senior. These are some of the OTC meds that might be risky for those over 50.

If you need meds for your allergy and you are used to taking over-the-counter ones, stick to the basics, like Claritin. This one is less likely to cause any side effects.

3. Acetaminophen or Tylenol

This is a drug that has been debated for a long time. It is now OTC, but for years it has been debated whether it should be only sold under subscription or not.

Acetaminophen, Tylenol’s generic name, when taken in excess, can harm the liver. Indeed, the primary cause of liver failure is excessive acetaminophen usage. If you are careful, it can harm you forever.

This implies that before taking the painkiller, those who have a liver illness or who regularly consume alcohol should exercise extra caution. Also, remember that acetaminophen is a common ingredient in over-the-counter cold and flu remedies. This means you should always remember that it’s easy to overdose on the drug without even realizing it.

As you can see, acetaminophen is one of the OTC meds that might be risky, and because of this, you should take care before using it. The safest way is to ask your doctor before using it and make sure that it is okay to take it.

4. Aspirin

Aspirin might be the answer to many minor health problems. Do you have a cold? Take aspirin. Do you have a headache? take aspirin. These are things that most of us have heard, but can we just take aspirin so carelessly?

Do you also know that, in case of a heart attack, aspirin may be pretty useful? Yes, many guides advise that in case of a heart attack, you can make things better by chewing an aspirin. But do you know why?

Aspirin can keep your blood from clotting, but this is also what makes it dangerous. Because aspirin is not a prescription drug, many people do not consider it to be a very serious substance.

The daily use of low-dose aspirin to prevent cardiac events is no longer advised for people aged 60 and older. This means that if you have never experienced a heart attack or stroke, you shouldn’t take the medication to avoid one. Aspirin is one of the OTC meds that might be risky for seniors, and this is why you should be careful.

5. Ibuprofen and naproxen

Ibuprofen is the generic name for Advil and Motrin, and naproxen is the generic name for Aleve. These are some of the most common OTC medications that people take when they feel any pain. Be it a headache or bone pain, these are the first options people choose. They are both easy to find and effective.

However, these OTC pain relievers might be problematic for older people. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can irritate the stomach so much that they can cause bleeding and ulcers.

This is why those who use blood thinners, as well as those who have uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension, should stay far away from using NSAIDs. Also, even if you don’t have any problems, long-term use of NSAIDs can affect your kidneys. So, these are some of the OTC meds that might be risky, and you should always check with your doctor to see if you can take them or not.

OTC meds that might be risky
Photo by Cloudy Design from Shutterstock

6. Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine

Generally, both of these substances can be found in decongestants such as Sudafed and others you take when you have a cold that causes a stuffy and runny nose. But these decongestants are, for sure, some of the OTC meds that might be risky for seniors.

They can spike blood pressure, and this is a side effect that can be dangerous. Combining an over-the-counter decongestant with an NSAID, for instance, may raise blood pressure in older folks and increase their risk of stroke.

Recent studies have shown that phenylephrine decongestants are ineffective. Considering this, you might want to try a nasal spray such as Afrin since it is much safer than taking oral phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine medications.

Try to avoid OTC meds that might be risky for seniors if you are over 50, and you should be safe. If you can’t avoid taking some of them, always consult your doctor before.

This is one of the most useful things we have ever used, and if you take a lot of medications, this could be a lifesaver: Weekly Pill Organizer,3-Times-A-Day 7 Day Pill Box

You should also read: Believing These 8 Flu Shot Myths May Put Your Health at Risk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


top picks


you may also like

Have you heard about these flu prevention tips before? When it comes to flu[…]
Some people put their clothes in the freezer to get rid of harmful bacteria.[…]
Coughing? Feeling congested? Sneezing? Are these signs of the flu, a cold, allergies, RSV[…]
Get your dose of immunity with these delicious foods that are a must during[…]