1. Medication can make you too impaired to drive

    How you could 'drive drunk' without a drink

    I know you'd never dream of driving drunk.

    Yet every day, millions of Americans hit the road just as impaired as someone who's had one too many.

    And most of them don't even realize it!

    Many common medications can leave you so out-of-whack that you're a risk when you're out on the roads, and new research shows how many drivers don't know... are never warned... or have been warned, but don't seem to care.

    Nearly 20 percent of drivers say that they've taken a med that can lead to impairment -- not at some point in their lives, and not even over the past year.

    This was over the past TWO DAYS!

    Some of the drugs are obvious.

    We all know how loopy prescription pain pills can make you. Some people can't even walk right, much less drive.

    Of course, sedatives such as sleep drugs and relaxants will do just what their names say -- and leave you too drowsy to drive.

    Yet the study finds that many people who take those drugs drive anyway, even though most are warned by their pharmacists.

    Those aren't the only drugs that can lead to driving dangers. And the risks with some of the others are much less obvious.

    Antidepressant drugs taken by some 30 million Americans can also lead to impaired driving, and nearly 40 percent of the folks who take the meds say they haven't been warned of that risk.

    Other common drugs, including meds taken by seniors (such as blood pressure pills), can lead to impaired thinking, poor judgement, and so much dizziness that you could feel as if you've knocked back a shot of Jack Daniels.

    What makes this even more frightening is that at least a shot of JD wears off. The effects of meds can linger... and linger... and linger. Some studies have found that taking a sleep med at night can make you too impaired to drive the next morning!

    Of course, KNOWING the risk is quite different from realizing how BIG that risk is. I don't think any of these people truly believe they're impaired, otherwise they'd never get behind the wheel.

    They think the risk is exaggerated. Or maybe just like some people think they can "handle" their booze, some folks are convinced they can "handle" their meds.

    But they can't.

    By definition, being impaired means that you're not exactly the best judge of your own state.

    OF COURSE, you should pay attention to drug warnings, but let me give you another option.

    Many times, natural therapies can deliver all of the same benefits of drugs but without the risks. Work closely with a holistic medical doctor to see if anything you're taking can be swapped with something safer -- so you can keep driving.

  2. Medication sends seniors to hospitals

    The REAL reasons seniors go to the ER

    It's almost funny.

    You could spend years preparing for the day you need to be taken to the ER due to a heart problem.

    You and your spouse both learn the signs and symptoms... you have 911 on speed dial... and you may even have a "phone tree" for contacting family in the event of an emergency.

    Then one day you find yourself in the back of that ambulance, and it's not even because of your heart.

    It's because of your heart MEDS!

    In a horrible irony, one of the leading causes of ER visits in seniors is a problem with medication -- especially the drugs given to heart patients and diabetics.

    Yes, friend, you could be literally killed by your care.

    New research finds that 1 in 100 seniors end up in the emergency room every year because of problems with their medication. That number might sound small, but it certainly isn't.

    That's just the risk per senior, per year.

    If you're a senior for 20 years -- if you live to be 85 -- that means your total risk of going to the ER because of a med problem is just 1 in 5.

    The drugs most often responsible for those ER visits are the "everyday" drugs taken by your friends and loved ones, including drugs you might be taking every day yourself.

    At the top of the list are blood thinners such as warfarin, which can cause blood to get too thin.

    In some cases, a simple bloody nose can turn into a medical emergency because the bleeding won't stop.

    But at least you can see it -- so you know right away something's wrong.

    In other cases, these drugs can cause serious and even severe internal bleeding... and because it can't be seen, you may not realize it's happening until it's too late.

    Diabetes drugs are also a top cause of ER visits, especially insulin when it causes blood sugar levels to drop too far.

    And, of course, opioid painkillers send people across all age groups to the ER -- but seniors in particular are at risk since the "standard" doses are often much too high for older folks.

    Fortunately, there's a way to bring this risk from 1 in 5 down to almost zero with two simple steps.

    First, have a "brown bag" checkup once or twice a year. In many cases, your insurer will even cover it (and even if they don't, it's inexpensive and well worth the small fee).

    That's when either a doctor or pharmacist who specializes in senior care takes a look at all your meds and doses for possible problems.

    And second, once you're certain you have only the drugs you absolutely need based on mainstream standards, visit a holistic medical doctor -- because some of the drugs that are left can often be replaced by safer alternatives.

    If you're in the San Diego area, I can help. Make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

    Not in the area? I'm also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

  3. Too many new drugs – and many don’t work

    New studies show that 70 percent of Americans are taking prescription drugs -- but many of today's medications aren't nearly as effective as drugs used years ago.
  4. Quick quiz can measure your Alzheimer's risk

    We waste a fortune on tests we don't need for conditions we don't have -- conditions we often shouldn't be worrying about in the first place.
  5. Skyrocketing side effects

    Researchers looked at more than 500,000 potential side effects listed on some 5,600 drug labels, and found that the average medication lists at least 70.
  6. New warning over dementia overmedication

    Studies have shown over and over that a little TLC goes a long way for dementia patients. Of course, that takes time and patience--two things health care professionals seem to be lacking these days.

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