Can medication reduce falls?

There is no single medication available which can reduce falls. But there are some medications which are sometimes considered in specific circumstances. Below we give a brief description of these medications and why people may be recommended to take them.

Vitamin D

Earlier we discussed using vitamin D as a way to protect the bones from fracture during a fall. However, some experts recommend using vitamin D as a treatment in order to prevent the fall. If we look at all the research available on using vitamin D to prevent falls, it is not effective in the majority of people. But, it might be effective at reducing falls in people who have low levels of vitamin D, or a vitamin D deficiency. We say ‘might’ because not all research studies agree and more work is needed to give us a definitive answer.

Salt tablets

Usually we are told that we should be reducing the amount of salt in our diet and for most of us this is true. Very occasionally a doctor may recommend a person increases their salt intake, or indeed takes salt tablets. This is because salt increases our blood pressure; therefore salt tends be used in people who have problems with low blood pressure that is contributing to falls or fainting. However, these salt tablets are not used regularly these days and are usually restricted to young people who have had their blood and urinary salt levels checked.

Fludrocortisone

This tablet is used for people who fall due to problems relating to blood pressure control, specifically, when the blood pressure drops too low. This tends to be in people who have low blood pressure when they stand up, or in people who faint. Because this tablet can cause the blood pressure to rise, it is important that the blood pressure is checked regularly to avoid it becoming too high. Similarly, regular blood tests are required to make sure the tablet is not affecting salt levels in the blood. One of the most common side effects is water retention, resulting in swollen ankles. Unfortunately, this medication is not 100% effective and a proportion of people will not find it to be of any benefit in reducing falls due to low blood pressure. Simple alternatives include water-drinking and wearing compression stockings.

Natural/herbal remedies

There are some herbal remedies which are suggested to prevent falls and fainting. However, they have no proven benefit and we would not recommend using herbal remedies to prevent falls, dizziness or fainting.

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Ageing Well: Falls

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