RICHMOND (WRIC) - It's considered America's other drug problem -- people taking two, three or more prescription medications.
Some overlap, cause adverse reactions or even an overdose and the elderly population is most at risk.
Patti Moyer's enjoying her morning routine - time with her dogs and taking her pills for the day.
Three years ago Moyer learned her two blood pressure medications were overlapping, giving her double the desired dosage every day.
"It was way too much medication for me," she says.
Keith Kittinger of Bremo Pharmacy says it's become an epidemic, so last year he started the senior care program with the VCU School of Pharmacy.
"It's the norm rather than the exception for sure that people are having problems they're not even aware are medication related," he says.
Pharmacists study a patient's list of drugs to see how they're interacting.
"We've got to look at how it's working in their body and making sure it's appropriate it's not staying in their body too long, causing an overdose or it's causing an adverse effect," says pharmacist Jennifer Helmke.
Adverse drug reactions kill 100,000 people in the U.S. every year and cause serious injury to another two million.
Many more experience symptoms because of the medicines they take -- dizziness, confusion, dementia -- and may even be treated for conditions they don't have.
"Everything from urinary incontinence to Parkinson's like symptoms where they're treated for those conditions like they have them but in reality, it's just a side effect of medication that's causing them to lose their urine or to tremor," says VCU School of Pharmacy's Emily Peron.
Moyer's overdose was detected before it got to that point. She knows she was one of the lucky ones and now she encourages everyone to develop a relationship with their pharmacist just in case.
"Go to them, speak to them and they're very willing to talk and I learned that after all of this."
These kinds of adverse reactions and overdoses are possible in all age groups, but especially in older adults because they handle the drugs differently and they often need smaller doses of medicine per pound of body weight than younger adults.
If you have a question about what you're putting in your body, click here for more information.
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