HCF Fit and Well : Summer 2012
Medicines & machinery MEDICINES 11 One outcome from the popularity of TV renovation shows seems to be an increase in people tackling do-it-yourself (DIY) jobs at home. This rise has been used to explain new figures from the National Injury Sur veillance Unit at Flinders University in Adelaide showing an increase in DIY-related accidents. The most common injuries in 2009-10 were caused by falls from ladders, roof falls, power saws and other power tools. In performing such tasks personal safety is paramount. And while most prescription and over- the-counter medicines have little impact on our ability to perform complex tasks, some relatively common medications can affect coordination and concentration. These side effects can increase the risk of accidents occurring, including while using power tools or appliances at home and machinery at work. Possible side effects Karen Kaye, Head of Programs at NPS MedicineWise, says while many people know about the possible effects of prescription medicines, they pay less attention to over-the-counter medicines. "Pain relievers, particularly those containing codeine, medicines to treat blocked sinuses, antihistamines, travel sickness tablets and cough, cold and flu medicines may contain ingredients that affect concentration and coordination," she says. "So check possible effects with your pharmacist before taking them." Prescription medicines that can have similar effects include treatment for anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses, epilepsy drugs, sleeping pills, arthritis medications and drugs for heart problems and blood pressure. "Some medicines may lead to drowsiness or dizziness when you start taking them, or begin taking a higher dose," advises Kaye. Lots of unknowns NPS warns age can also play a role, with older people more likely to be affected by medicines that cause drowsiness or dizziness. Any other medicines you take -- and/or underlying medical conditions -- may also increase the At work or home, some medicines can affect concentration and coordination on the task at hand. Health tip Read any warning stickers or labels on your medicine and follow instructions carefully. TAKE CARE WITH MEDICINES • Read any warning stickers or labels on your medicine and follow instructions. Read the packaging carefully on any over-the-counter medicines before use. • The consumer medicines information (CMI) leaflet for your medicines will give you advice, too. Read the 'things you must not do' or 'things to be careful of' sections thoroughly. • If you feel dizzy, drowsy or affected after taking medicine, don't drive or use machinery. impact on coordination and concentration. "There are a lot of unknowns, which is why it's important to know what to look out for when taking a new medicine or a different dose," explains Kaye. She says if you feel dizzy, drowsy or not as alert after taking medication, avoid activities such as driving, using power tools or operating complex machinery. "Undertaking these kinds of activities when you are affected by medicines can be dangerous to yourself and other people." If you have any questions about your medication, talk to your pharmacist or GP, or call the NPS Medicine Line on 1300 633 424.