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Is it Safe to Drive While Taking Pain Medication?

prescription-drug-overdoseThere are so many Americans taking medication for pain and other ailments that we may not even think to ask whether we are safe to drive while on the prescription. In truth, it is safe to drive while taking most medication but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that it's best to be absolutely sure before you get behind the wheel.

Some prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can cause reactions that may make it unsafe to drive.

Reactions to medications can include:

  • Slowed movement or reaction times
  • Fainting
  • Sleepiness/drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Excitability or racing heart
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to focus or pay attention
  • Nausea

Risk of DUI

In some states, driving while under the influence of drugs/medication, whether prescribed or not, can put you at risk for a DUI. If you cause an accident while taking medication, you may find yourself under scrutiny for any medication you were taking at the time of the collision.

Medications that could Cause Unsafe Driving

Keep yourself and others safe. Be cautious if taking any of the following prescription or OTC medications as they could cause a decrease in your driving abilities:

  • drugs for anxiety
  • pain relievers
  • antidepressants
  • products containing codeine
  • some cold remedies and allergy products
  • tranquilizers
  • sleeping pills
  • diet pills, "stay awake" drugs, and other medications with stimulants such as caffeine, ephedrine, or pseudoephedrine.

Never combine alcohol and medication before driving and be careful of taking more than one medication at a time unless you have been advised by a pharmacist or doctor that they do not combine to cause drowsiness. Be aware that pills containing stimulants may cause excitability or drowsiness.

Be Informed

If you need to drive while taking medication, get all the information you can to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road. Continue to take your medication in the dosage and times you were prescribed but talk to your doctor or pharmacist about potential side effects so you are prepared. You can request a print-out of the potential risks and side effects for any medication. It is very important to provide a complete record of all the medications you are taking including OTC and herbal products so your doctor or pharmacist can advise about any dangerous overlaps or potential side effects.

With adequate information your doctor may be able to:

  • adjust the dose of your medication
  • adjust the timing of doses or when you use the medicine to work around key driving times
  • add an exercise or nutrition program to decrease the need for medicine
  • change the medicine to one that causes less drowsiness or other undesirable side effects that could affect your ability to drive

If you have spoken to your doctor and taken all reasonable precautions but you still feel unsafe to drive, it might be best to look into transportation alternatives. Consider asking for a ride from a friend or family member, taking public transportation, walking, taxi cabs, shuttles buses, or vans. Many senior centers and religious or other local service groups offer transportation services for older adults in the community.

If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. today for a FREE consultation! You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!

Senior Women at Twice the Risk for Fall Related Injuries

senior-fallTripping and falling happens from time to time but senior citizens (65 and older) are more likely to fall and to become injured from the fall. Every year, millions of adults aged 65 and older fall, causing moderate to severe injuries including hip fractures and head traumas. A hard fall can increase the risk of premature death. Sadly, death rates from falls among older men and women have risen sharply over the past decade.

Senior Fall Statistics

  • In 2012, $30 billion dollars was spent on the direct medical costs of falls.
  • One out of every three senior citizens experiences a fall each year but less than half report the fall to their doctor.
  • Among senior citizens, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.
  • In 2012, 2.4 million senior adults were treated for non-fatal falls in emergency departments. More than 722,000 of these patients were hospitalized.

Health Risks from Falls

  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • Almost half of fatal falls among older adults are due to TBI.
  • Up to thirty percent of falls cause serious injuries including hip fractures, lacerations, and head traumas. Serious injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.
  • Most of the time, when a senior experiences a fracture it is from falling. The most common fractures are to the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.
  • Many times a person who falls develops a fear of falling again which may cause them to limit physical activity. Sadly, decreased physical activity weakens the muscular-skeletal system and actually increases the risk of falling.

Fall-related Deaths

  • In 2011, approximately 22,900 senior adults died from unintentional fall injuries.
  • Men are at greater risk of dying from a fall than women. After controlling for age, the fall death rate in 2011 was 41 percent higher for men than for women.

Fall Injuries

  • Senior women are twice as likely as senior men to experience a fracture from a fall.
  • People 75 years and older who experience a fall are four to five times more likely than those aged 65 to 74 to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer.More than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls. In 2010, there were 258,000 hip fractures from falls.

Fall Prevention Tips

  • Regular exercise, particularly activities that increase leg strength and balance can help prevent a fall. Tai Chi or other weight bearing exercises are a great way to built lower body strength and balance.
  • Get plenty of calcium and vitamin D from food and/or supplements.
  • Get screened and treated, if needed, for osteoporosis.
  • Have a doctor or pharmacist analyze all medicines taken, including prescription and over the counter, to identify any that could cause side effects or interactions like dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Seniors should have their eyes checked by an optometrist annually to check for overall eye health and ensure that their prescription is up to date. It might be a good idea to get a pair of glasses with single vision lenses for distance only for walking outside.
  • Remove tripping hazards from in and around the home.
  • Add grab bars to walls for getting in and out of the bathtub or shower and using the toilet.
  • Add railings to both sides of stairways.
  • Ensure adequate lighting inside and outside of the home.

If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. today for a FREE consultation! You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!

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