Older adults tend to have multiple illnesses and therefore take more drugs, but polypharmacy (taking multiple medications) increases the risk of a poor outcome. The more medications a person takes, the higher the risk becomes of adverse drug reactions, nonadherence, financial burden, drug-drug interactions, and worse outcomes. From 1999 to 2011, estimates of the prevalence of polypharmacy rose from eight to 15 percent. One of the causes of this problem is that medications started in late middle age need to be closely monitored as the patient ages and those medications, at some point, may become inappropriate for an older patient. The problem of polypharmacy may be compounded by older patients who take over-the-counter medications and

The human kidney is a remarkable organ. While I couldn’t hope to cover all aspects of kidney function in a short column like this, I thought an overview might be of interest. Most humans have two kidneys, bean-shaped organs about the size of an adult fist, located in the mid back behind the stomach. Their basic function is to keep the composition of the blood balanced to maintain good health. They filter water and toxins (i.e. natural toxins like urea, some drugs and medications, and some

The thyroid gland is located in the anterior mid-neck. The thyroid is the control center for the entire endocrine system. The gland releases mostly thyroxine, known as T4, and small amounts of triiodothyronine, or T3. Iodine is necessary for production of thyroid hormone. In the western world, the most common source of dietary iodine is iodized salt. Low levels of dietary iodine can cause the thyroid to become enlarged, a condition called goiter. Lack of iodine in infants causes severe mental

It is estimated that 96 percent of humans will suffer from one or more headaches during their lifetime. References to headaches can be found in ancient writings like the Ebers Papyrus (dating to circa 1550 B.C.). Visual symptoms from headaches were described by Hippocrates in 400 B.C. Interest in headaches extends back as far as recorded history, and it is one of the most common complaints of patients who present for medical care. The direct and indirect socioeconomic costs of headaches to

Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that hold bones in place. Some parts of the body have multiple ligaments, for example the human hand. The hand has eight small bones held in place by multiple ligaments, similar to the ankle. A sprain is simply an injury that causes a ligament to tear, causing pain, bleeding, and swelling. But sometimes, in response to a sudden, strong movement or force, a ligament might be forced out of place. This is called subluxation. Similar to a dislocation, where a

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system and it affects more than 2 million people worldwide (over 400,000 in the U.S.). It is currently incurable. It is characterized by fully or partially reversible episodes of neurologic disability, often lasting days to weeks. Symptoms typically include loss of vision in one eye caused by optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve), limb weakness or numbness (inflammation of spinal nerves)

Now that summer is near, I thought today would be an appropriate day to talk about some dangers of exposure to hot weather like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. In order to avoid the dangers of heat exposure, there are some common sense recommendations such as scheduling outdoor activities during the cooler morning and evening hours, wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, drink plenty of fluids, but avoid fluids with high sugar content or alcohol, as these can cause dehydration. If you

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