Could your medications be affecting your balance?

Mary’s Journey: A Wake-Up Call on Medication and Balance


Mary's sudden episodes of dizziness were unsettling. Having started only a few weeks ago, they had already nearly caused her to take a tumble. Unwilling to let these episodes slow her down, she continued to go about her day but with caution. A casual conversation with a pharmacist, however, led her to reconsider her symptoms' origin.


The Unseen Culprit: Medication Side Effects


It turns out, Mary had recently started taking antidepressants. She had not read the list of side effects (these are anxiety-inducing at the best of times) and didn't realise they could be the culprit. After consulting her doctor, they determined that the antidepressants could be causing her dizziness.


Taking Action: Adjusting Lifestyle and Medication Timing


Her doctor suggested increasing her fluid intake and taking the pills in the evening. If that didn't work, he would look at changing the prescription.  


Fortunately, these changes worked, and Mary felt significantly better. This got her thinking: could others be overlooking the connection between medication and balance issues?


Common Medications That Affect Balance


Many people, like Mary, don't immediately link new balance issues to medication. But a variety of common medications can lead to symptoms ranging from mild dizziness or blurred vision to severe instability.


These include:

Type of medication

Some commonly-prescribed examples

Sleeping aids

zopiclone, diazepam, temazepam

Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications

SSRIs like citalopram, sertraline, fluoxetine

Bladder urgency medications

oxybutynin, tolterodine, solifenacin

Erectile dysfunction pills

Viagra, Cialis

Blood pressure medications

amlodipine, anything ending with -pril, diuretics

Heart medications

vasodilators, nitrates, GTN spray, beta blockers, also diuretics

Diabetes medications

gliclazide, insulin

Osteoporosis medications

alendronate

Opioid painkillers

co-codamol, tramadol, morphine patches

This list is not exhaustive.


Anti-seizure medications and Parkinson’s medications can cause dizziness and visual disturbances. Many other medications, including herbal supplements, can have side effects which can affect your balance.


Remember, you could be taking any of these without any issues. They could be affecting your balance, but that doesn't mean they definitely will. 


The Risks of Polypharmacy


Taking multiple medications, also known as polypharmacy, can increase the risk of balance-related issues. It's crucial to work closely with your healthcare provider to minimize the number of medications you need. Here's an article we wrote on this topic. 


When to Consult a Professional


If you notice new symptoms like dizziness or unsteadiness, speak with your doctor. An alternative medication may be a better fit, or it could be an unrelated issue worth investigating.


*Important note: Do not stop taking any medications without consulting your doctor *


A Holistic Approach to Balance


Besides medication, several other factors contribute to maintaining your balance. Staying active and participating in regular exercise can bolster your muscle strength and improve your balance, helping you feel steadier on your feet and more confident every day.


We've put our best advice for getting started on balance training into the new Balance Blueprint

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All material in this article and video is provided for information and educational purposes only. It is not advice and should not be relied on as such. Always consult an exercise or health professional if you have any health issues and need personalised advice. With this in mind, we hope you enjoy reading our articles and watching our videos.

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