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Polypharmacy In Younger Age: The Shocking Truth about Polypharmacy!


The definition of polypharmacy may vary across different articles; however, it is commonly understood as the concurrent administration of multiple drugs to patients with chronic illnesses. Experts believe polypharmacy at a younger age is appropriate for children with life-threatening diseases. However, polypharmacy in younger ages has significantly increased hospitalizations, and yet there is still a chance of incorrect prescriptions. The lives of individuals are at risk with many diseases and there is no potential quality of life for children.

Additionally, this blog discusses polypharmacy at younger ages in terms of factors, care in homes and hospitals, and risk factors at younger ages. Polypharmacy in children causes long-term and incurable diseases, including those with respiratory, neurological, or metabolic life-limiting diseases, not congenital conditions.

Complex and Chronic Diseases Lead To Polypharmacy

Complex and Chronic Diseases Lead To Polypharmacy

These diseases include respiratory disorders such as asthma and weak immunity, as well as complex allergies such as anaphylaxis and others. Psychological issues can lead to a range of conditions including anxiety, depression, tension, and disorders like hyperactivity disorder. However, these diseases may affect the person, so it requires polypharmacy, i.e., to cure multiple disorders with concurrent medication. Polypharmacy in younger age is found to be multiple disorders at the same time, and the cure is given to patients with multiple treatments and drugs and mostly deals with chronic diseases.

What Research Has Been Found on Polypharmacy?

Multiple researches have been done in the field of polypharmacy in younger age. Summaries from the few top most important researches are listed below.

Minji Sohn, Meghan Burgess, and Mohamed Bazzi have done research with the title” Antipsychotic Polypharmacy among Children and Young Adults in Office-Based or Hospital Outpatient Department Settings“. There were three purposes of the research, first, it was to estimate the probability of antipsychotic polypharmacy in younger ages of about the age of 9 to 24 in the U.S. which weights approximated 2007 – 11 national visits.  Secondly, it was to analyze the frequently used AP patients and to find out the mental disorder-related observations of AP polypharmacy in younger age and this, it was frequent AP polypharmacy medication and diagnosis; and lastly, it has to analyze the strength of connection of  (AP) polypharmacy and agent’s features.

Only 5% of these visits were AP polypharmacy, and it was conducted in 2007 and 2011, with 2%  having age of 6- to 24-year-old office-based or hospital outpatient visits, including AP prescriptions. Also, AP polypharmacy uses two or more second-generation APs. It resulted in a high rate of bipolar illness moreover, it has been seen that schizophrenia was a common mental disorder.

Another research has been done with the title, ” Polypharmacy in Children and Young People With Life-limiting Conditions From 2000 to 2015: A Repeated Cross-sectional Study in England” on the objective that polypharmacy is acceptable but it rises in hospitalizations and incorrect prescribing the medicine that could harm the quality of life of a child. This study analyzes the trends in a national data set of children with life-threatening diseases. However, the method was to utilize a national database having ages of children (0–19 years) with fatal conditions from 2000 to 2015. 15,829 patients approximately included younger age 27%-39% have received≥5 distinct drugs annually, whereas 8%-12% received ≥10. Children with respiratory, neurological, or metabolic conditions. Notably, there is an increase in the frequency with an increase in the age of patients, according to the study. Moreover, younger age patients are more inclined to polypharmacy in younger age having life-threatening diseases.

Limitations and Strengths

Using diagnostic analysis alone to identify such necessitates a high quality of life, sensitivity, and specificity. This is particularly true for children who had prenatal life-threatening episodes but no longer have a life-threatening condition. If the maternity dataset documented a congenital issue at birth, the earliest recording may be older than the diagnosis. Serious congenital conditions usually cause minimal delay.

According to the study dispensing some prescriptions, especially those with unique criteria such as cancer medicines, expensive pharmaceuticals, or commission-based prescribing. Thus, this study may underestimate polypharmacy in younger ages, which may explain the higher-than-expected number of youngsters without frequent prescriptions. Previous paediatric palliative care studies included non-medicated youngsters.

Crucial Factors of Polypharmacy

Some factors are critical in conducting thorough medication evaluations for multi-drug users. Consider these crucial factors:

First, polypharmacy must be managed during drug introduction, review, and care transitions. Additionally, promotes safety so that doctors and patients can discuss polypharmacy and ask questions.

Also, remove barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration and establish scaled polypharmacy management policies and initiatives.

Furthermore, inform doctors about the polypharmacy in younger age medication assessment findings. Furthermore, a person-centred medication review with patients and their carers.

Additionally, during drug reviews, discuss lifestyle issues and use technology to improve patient experience, drug safety, and adherence. Lastly, report adverse drug reactions, hospitalizations, and primary care visits for medication-related symptoms.

Polypharmacy Risks:

Polypharmacy Risks 1

According to research in this field, about 91% take medication for chronic diseases—at least five drugs a day.

Elderly people are more susceptible to this condition, particularly due to the challenges faced by adults and older individuals lacking primary caregivers, as well as those with cognitive long-term issues being at a higher risk.

Polypharmacy in younger age with chronic issues, such as fibromyalgia, or developmental disabilities, particularly those with other chronic medical diseases, leading to polypharmacy. Moreover, younger polypharmacy patients also have diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, etc.

Polypharmacy is not seen in mental health patients; psychotropic drugs with side effects are regularly provided; and additional medications may minimise side effects. Chronic mental health and medical patients may need multiple drugs to maximise functioning and reduce illness sequelae. Therefore, polypharmacy may have side effects.

Polypharmacy During Care and Unprescribed Drugs

According to the technical report by WHO, medication reconciliation is essential when patients switch treatments. Hospital-based medication reconciliation procedures consistently reduced discrepancies, side effects, and adverse drug events, especially in high-risk patients, such as polypharmacy at younger age.

More technical reports talk about how research shows that hospital staff failed to recognize over 20% of prescriptions, with less than half being indicated in discharge letters. During care monitoring, ignorance of polypharmacy and medication history ignorance can lead to prescription errors and adverse drug events.

Besides authorised medicine, many people self-medicate using OTC drugs. It means that it is over the counter without being prescribed by the doctor. OTC pain and allergy/cough medications, such as NSAIDs, can interact with prescriptions and cause harm. Patients can exchange drugs. Importantly, discussing patients about all drugs and treatments is crucial. Many people use herbal and conventional drugs to treat ailments. Traditional and complementary therapies may promote polypharmacy; thus, doctors should ask about them when screening medicines

Consider The Risks and Advantages

Providers need tools and information to assess medication safety, effectiveness, and long-term prescriptions. The NNT helps prescribers assess pharmacological effectiveness. The NNT is the average number of patients treated over time for one patient to benefit compared to a control, or absolute risk reduction reciprocal.

The ideal NNT indicates that therapy benefits all patients. Higher NNTs indicate worse treatment effectiveness in terms of study outcomes and timeframe. The NNT, which is typically based on clinical trials, measures treatment benefits statistically. Predicting a patient’s benefits is impossible.

For patients to participate in decision-making, risks and benefits should be publicly known. The Scottish polypharmacy advice platform helps healthcare providers work with patients. A smartphone app and website assist in initiating and reviewing therapy.

Reviewing Polypharmacy Medications Method

Patients should be involved in the assessment process and should involve patients to learn how they handle drugs and their treatment goals. Patients should support the prescriber’s goals for better results and treatment. Promote polypharmacy management, and share medication evaluations and modifications with other healthcare providers, especially when patients switch settings, to promote polypharmacy management.

WHO has designed simple questions to examine patients and allow them to choose therapy. Furthermore, it should be noted that the five health-related drug safety points emphasise five critical drug usage moments when the patient, family, or caregiver can greatly minimise harm risk.

Notably, the tool enables patients to participate in their treatment, ask questions about their medicines, interact openly with their doctors, and make joint decisions. Additionally, it might motivate patients to actively assess their medications. Finally, integrating these technologies into clinical practice necessitates more research to ensure patient outcomes and user value.


It has been seen that reporting medication mistakes and polypharmacy in younger interactions improves patient safety. Polypharmacy can lead to drug mistakes, interactions, adherence issues, and a worse quality of life. Medical personnel, patients, and caretakers must record medication-related events. However, understanding drug events is essential for designing risk-reducing preventative and treatment methods.

About The Author

Wania Ahmed
Wania Ahmed
I am Wania Ahmed, graduated in Bs English. I am a Teacher and Writer by profession. Being a teacher it feels as if I have known this world from ages, and as writer I think I am discovering it more closely. These two contrasting traits have made my life more interesting. I am fearless, fantastic and friendly. Therefore I am working hard to turn my dreams into reality.

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