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Prescription drug reactions send more older Americans to the ER

Drug interactions accounted for 35% of emergency room visits among adults 65 and older.

(CNN) - The U.S. is a nation of prescription drug users.

In any given month, an estimated 48 percent of the population is taking at least one pharmaceutical medicine, and sometimes drugs that are supposed to help us have unintended effects.

Dangerous interactions between medicines are sending an increasing number of people in the U.S. to the emergency room, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers examined data from more than 42,000 emergency room visits in 2013 and 2014.

They found that drug reactions sent one in every 250 Americans to the ER during that time.

More than a quarter of those patients experienced effects so severe they had to be hospitalized.

During the same time period, drug interactions accounted for 35 percent of emergency room visits among adults 65 and older.

In 2005 and 2006, the last time drug reactions were studied, they only accounted for 26 percent of ER visits for that age group.

Estimates indicate that three types of drugs led to nearly half of these ER visits.

Blood thinners led to hemorrhages, antibiotics caused severe allergic reactions and diabetes drugs caused hypoglycemia with neurological effects.

The study's authors said health care professionals should be more careful about managing patients who take these kinds of drugs.

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