Medicines and falls

Medicines and how to manage them

Some medicines can cause side effects that might make you more likely to have a fall. These side effects can include:

You are more likely to fall if you take 4 or more medicines, or as you get older.

If you take multiple medicines, it's important that these are being reviewed to prevent side effects that make you more likely to fall. 

Read our information about support for managing your medicines.

Side effects that can make you more likely to fall

Sleepiness

Some medicines can cause sleepiness (sedation). These can include:

  • sleeping tablets
  • medicines to reduce anxiety and make you feel calmer
  • some medicines for hay fever and allergy
  • some medicines used to treat depression (a low mood) and nerve pain
  • medicines to treat mental health problems

Try not to take sleeping tablets or anxiety medicines for too long. This is because using these long term can make you dependent on them.

However, you need to talk to your GP if you have been taking these medicines for some time and want to stop them.

Your GP or practice pharmacist can help you to reduce the amount (dose) gradually. This helps to limit the possible side effects of stopping the medicines suddenly.

Feeling dizzy or faint

You might feel dizzy or faint if you take medicines for:

  • high blood pressure
  • heart problems
  • urinary problems (problems with peeing)
  • depression
  • some mental health problems
  • Parkinson's disease

A medicine called prochlorperazine (Stemetil®) can be used to treat vertigo (a feeling like you or everything around you is spinning). But this medicine can sometimes cause dizziness and falls, especially in older people.

Do not stop taking any of these medicines suddenly. If you think that one of your medicines might be making you feel sleepy (drowsy), faint or dizzy, speak to your local pharmacist. You can check with them if the medicine is likely to cause this side effect.

Resource number: 5319
Last reviewed: September 2022
Next review: September 2025

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