Taking too much medicine is detrimental to health

Medication - Am I Taking Too Many?

How does multimedia come about?

There are a number of reasons for taking many different drugs at the same time:

  • Someone has multiple illnesses that need long-term medication to treat.
  • With increasing age, more diseases often occur. Therefore, older people in particular take many drugs at the same time.
  • New medicines are added over the years, but the "old" ones are not changed.
  • Unsuccessful treatments are not stopped.
  • Additional medication is prescribed due to sudden discomfort or illness. Although you feel fine later, these are not canceled.
  • The treatment is carried out by various doctors. They do not know or only insufficiently about the medication prescriptions of the others.
  • There are side effects that are not recognized as such. Instead of stopping the triggering drug or reducing the dose, the patient is given another drug to alleviate the side effect.
  • Someone is taking over-the-counter medication on their own. The doctor doesn't know anything about it.
  • Often the patient or doctor thinks that every health disorder has to be treated with drugs. Many complaints are only temporary, resolve on their own or do not require medication.
  • The benefits of drugs, especially "new" drugs, are often overestimated.
  • Treatment goals are too strict, for example very low blood sugar or blood pressure values. That is why (more) drugs or too high doses are used.

What are the consequences of multimedia?

Using drugs as prescribed is important for the safe and successful treatment of ailments or illnesses. That is often not easy. Especially those who have to take a lot of medication can quickly lose track of the right medication and the right dosage at the right time. So too much medication can prevent you from taking medicines properly. With every additional drug, the risk of adverse effects increases. Usually these are general complaints such as tiredness, loss of appetite, dizziness, nausea, confusion or drowsiness. This can result in falls and serious injuries. Bleeding may suddenly become excessive or prolonged when taking blood thinners. Some people need hospital treatment for side effects. Overall, the following applies: When taking several drugs, it is no longer possible to predict what will happen in the body in terms of effects, interactions and undesirable effects. Less is sometimes more!

What you can do yourself

It is not always possible to avoid taking many drugs. But sometimes some are unnecessary. These tips are intended to help you, together with your doctor, to adapt the medication treatment to your personal needs:

  • There should be one main contact person for all questions about your medicines, for example your general practitioner. Trust her or him. He or she needs to know exactly which medication you are taking and how - and which one you do not take or take differently despite being prescribed.
  • Arrange a separate appointment for this in the practice, to which you will bring all medicines, including those you have bought yourself, and package inserts.
  • Explain your wishes, fears and worries to your doctor. Together you can decide which ailments or illnesses need to be alleviated most urgently.
  • Ask your doctor for one Medication plan. All prescribed and self-purchased medicines should be included in the medication plan. You should therefore have over-the-counter drugs supplemented at the pharmacy. Don't just think of tablets, but also sprays, drops or ointments, for example. Herbal remedies, vitamins and so on are also included.
  • Always carry the medication plan with you. Take it with you every time you go to the doctor, pharmacy, or hospital.
  • Also ask whether you really still need all the medication. Studies show: the fewer tablets you have to take, the better the intake works.
  • If you are taking more than four drugs or have at least three chronic diseases, have your medication checked by a doctor once a year: Do you still need each one?
  • Not every health disorder needs to be treated with medication. Complaints often go away on their own or can be alleviated in other ways. Discuss with your doctor whether you can just wait or whether exercise or some other measure will help.
  • If you experience symptoms during treatment with a medicine, talk to your doctor about it.
  • Do not stop taking any medication without talking to your doctor. Do not change the amount or dose on your own.

  • Medication dispensers help to sort pills for the day or for the whole week. This is a better way of keeping an overview.

June 2019, published by the German Medical Association and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians