Utica, NY (WIBX) - Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has an important safety tip that could help seniors reduce their risk of falling.

Excellus reports the more medication a senior takes, the greater their risk is of falling. Taking four or more medications, or taking prescriptions with side effects including dizziness and drowsiness, could greatly increase the risk.

Pharmacy Director for BCBS of Utica Dr. Mona Chitre says anti-histamines are big contributors.

"Over the counter," she says, "the biggest one would be Benadryl because Benadryl's number one side effect is drowsiness. Other products, over the counter, that they should be aware of that we just  don't have a lot of information on are the herbal products."

She says there's a lot of side-effect research being done on herbals because many patients are taking them.

Chitre also says it's important to keep a list of medications, including herbals and over-the-counter drugs.

"Be sure to update those medications when you have changes. And, make sure your physician knows everything you're on. And, don't be afraid to talk to your physician and pharmacist about side effects you may be experiencing because there are lots of alternatives that are available in many of the chronic categories we treat."

Excellus lists these medications as ones that may increase risk of falling:

  • Drugs to treat nerves or anxiety such as Valium (diazepam) and Traxene (clorazepate)
  • Drugs for depression such as Elavil (amitriptyline) and Tofranil (imipramine)
  • Sleep aids such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Dalmane (flurazepam) and Restoril (temazepam)
  • Heart medicine such as Catapres (clonidine) and Norpace (disopyramide)
  • Pain relievers such as Lortab (hydrocodone/acetaminophen), Indocin (indomethacin) and Demerol (meperidine)

According to Excellus, 15,000 adults in upstate New York are hospitalized each year because of falls.