5 drugs that cause the most emergency room visits

Source: medicalnewstoady.com

Drug-related ER visits are on the rise these days. This trend is unsurprising in at least one way: 2021 saw the worst of the overdose epidemic and that was when 108,000 Americans died primarily from opioid overdoses, according to a March 2022 report from the National Public Radio.

Opioids can cause the most overdose-related emergencies — find out how people recover from addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers at FHE Health — but they’re not the only culprits sending people to the ER. Whether illicit or prescribed by a doctor, some of the other drugs responsible for a disproportionate share of ER visits may surprise you, starting with these five, listed in alphabetical order.

1. Clopidogrel (Plavix) and warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)

Source: medicalnewstoady.com

According to research, blood thinners (which are also among the most prescribed medications in the United States) are implicated in a high number of ER visits. For example, clopidogrel is “one of the leading causes of emergency room visits for drug-related harm in the United States,” according to an October 2021 report from the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

Both clopidogrel and warfarin belong to a class of drugs called “blood thinners,” which the same ACC report describes as “the most common reason” for emergency room visits among older adults (65 and older). Blood thinners are supposed to reduce the risk of blood clotting, but the drug can cause bleeding and hemorrhaging, especially when combined with aspirin.

2. Cocaine

The stimulant is known to be at or near the top of a list of illicit drugs that send the most people to the emergency room each year. Cocaine-related chest pain is the main reason. 40% of those who ended up in the emergency room had “some degree of chest discomfort,” according to a January 2022 study in The Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Cocaine use is linked to myocardial infarction and premature coronary heart disease, among other heart health problems.

However, there may be other side effects that may require a trip to the ER. Short-term effects – especially from large amounts of cocaine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – can also include neurological problems such as seizures, strokes and coma and gastrointestinal complications such than abdominal pain. Deaths from first cocaine use are “rare,” according to NIDA, but they do occur and more often from cardiac arrest or seizures.

3. Insulin

Source: mondo.rs

“ER visits for hypoglycemia are common among insulin users,” read a 2014 Reuters headline. hypoglycemia or errors related to a common disease”. diabetes medicine. A third of those people were reportedly hospitalized, the same article says, citing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as the source.

As another perspective, insulin-related ER visits accounted for nearly 10% of all medication-related ER visits, according to the Reuters article. (Of course, one of the reasons insulin is on this list is that it’s one of the most prescribed medications, along with blood thinners.)

When a person ends up in the emergency room because of insulin, it’s usually because of symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The condition can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness, and even death. Symptoms may include sweating, headache, hunger or nausea, tremors, irregular or rapid heartbeat, fatigue, irritability or anxiety.

4. Meth (methamphetamine)

Methamphetamine trips that now include an ER stop are considerably more common these days. Methamphetamine-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations are “increasing,” said a February 2022 study in BMC Emergency Medicine. The issues that most often send meth users to the ER are psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions (like the belief that bugs crawl under your skin).

Methamphetamine is a psychostimulant: It affects the brain and the central nervous system. When taken as prescribed in appropriate doses, methamphetamine may be safe and effective in treating certain conditions, according to a 2021 report in the journal Conn’s Current Therapy. However, illegally manufactured methamphetamine is a whole different story. The same report mentioned above calls it “alarmingly dangerous” and states the following: “No other commonly used drug is so strongly associated with permanent brain damage, resembling that seen in brain damage victims. traumatic brain”.

5. Benzodiazepines like Xanax

Source: portstluciehospitalinc.com

Benzo-related ER visits increased nearly 25% between 2019 and 2020, according to a CDC report. Part of this increase was due to illegally manufactured benzos. Strikingly, seven of those eight ER visits involved self-harm or non-medical drug use, a February 2020 report in Medscape noted. He added that more than 80% of those cases also involved alcohol or illicit substances.

Benzodiazepines are sedatives. They are prescribed for problems such as anxiety, insomnia and seizures, but can cause unwanted side effects. Among the most problematic: respiratory depression, ie when breathing slows down. This often causes benzo-related hospital visits.

When taken in combination with alcohol or other drugs, benzos can be especially dangerous. In addition to breathing difficulties, they can lead to an increased risk of overdose, coma and even death.

What to learn

This list of medications most commonly associated with emergency room visits is not exhaustive. Nor should it overshadow the alarming reality that record numbers of people are losing their lives to opioids like heroin and fentanyl. Opioids and opioid overdoses remain a very serious problem that urgently requires solutions.

What this list of five drugs can help show, however, is that drug emergencies usually occur due to the abuse or misuse of drugs. This means that there are reasons to be cautious when taking seemingly more harmless, doctor-prescribed medications, and that illicit drug use like methamphetamine and cocaine is never worth the risk.

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