Avoiding Harmful Drug Interactions


Avoiding Harmful Drug Interactions

Avoid harmful drug interactions by reading the label carefully. People that intentionally abuse medications aren't the only ones that need to worry about drug interactions, anyone taking prescription drugs or over the counter medications do too. Drug interactions can be serious when certain medications are mixed with other drugs, alcohol or even some foods. Some people have more than one doctor or pharmacy so it's very important to always let each one know what medications you're taking.


Did you know that mixing drugs together or combining them with certain foods can cause unforeseen side effects that could be harmful, or make the medication less effective? It's true, so always read the labels closely on all over the counter medications and prescription drugs first, before taking them. To be on the safe side, check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you're aware of any important information you need to know in order to prevent a possibly harmful drug reaction.

Important Drug Interactions You Need to Know About

Antacids and Acid Reducers: Most of us take antacids from time to time for heartburn or indigestion and you wouldn't think taking this kind of medication could be harmful. Antacids shouldn't be taken if you have an allergy to milk or milk products if the product has over 5 grams of lactose in a maximum dose. Taking prescription drugs with antacids can also cause other problems, so check with your doctor or pharmacist first before taking them. If you have kidney disease, always let your doctor or pharmacist know first before using antacids and they will let you know if it's safe or not.

Acid Reducers (H2 Receptor Antagonists): These medications are found over the counter and by prescription for the relief of a sour stomach, heartburn and indigestion. If the acid reducer contains cimetidine, it shouldn't be mixed with Theophylline which is an oral asthma medication. Other medications that shouldn't be mixed with acid reducers containing cimetidine include Warfarin which is a blood thinning medication or a seizure drug called Phenytoin.

Antiemetics: These are medications that are used to prevent symptoms of motion sickness such as nausea, vomiting or dizziness. Antiemetics shouldn't be mixed with alcohol and your doctor or pharmacist needs to be aware if you're taking sedatives, tranquilizers, have breathing problems like chronic bronchitis or emphysema, glaucoma, or a problem with urination because of an enlarged prostate gland.

Antihistamines: These are medications that help relieve symptoms of hay fever or other upper respiratory problems. Alcohol needs to be avoided when taking Antihistamines. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking Antihistamines if you take sedatives, tranquilizers, prescription medications for depression or high blood pressure, glaucoma, problems with urination because of an enlarged prostate gland, emphysema, asthma, or chronic bronchitis.

Cough Medicines: Cough medicines are Antitussives and are used to suppress coughing. Before taking a cough medication, speak with your pharmacist or physician if you take a sedative or tranquilizer. If you have glaucoma or problems with urination because of an enlarged prostate gland, contact your doctor or pharmacist before taking any cough medication.

Bronchodilators: These are drugs that are used to relieve the symptoms of bronchial asthma temporarily. Before using a Bronchodilator let your doctor know if you have high blood pressure, thyroid disease, diabetes, heart disease, or due to an enlarged prostate gland you're having problems with urination. If you have ever been hospitalized for asthma or if you're taking a prescription asthma medication, make sure you check with your physician before using a Bronchodilator.

Laxatives: You may think laxatives are safe but if you have kidney disease and the drug contains phosphates, potassium, or magnesium you need to contact your doctor before taking a laxative. If you have stomach pain, nausea or are vomiting don't take a laxative without speaking to your physician first.

Nasal Decongestants: Nasal decongestants are commonly used to relieve congestion due to hay fever, colds, or other upper respiratory allergies. If you have medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, heart disease or problems with urination because of an enlarged prostate gland make sure your doctor knows before using a nasal decongestant.

Stimulant Medications: Stimulants that are taken to restore mental alertness due to fatigue or drowsiness when combined with caffeine can cause problems if a person consumes too much. A recommended dose of a stimulant medication contains the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee does. Consuming too much caffeine can increase your heat beat and cause problems with sleep, nervousness, and irritability.

Sleep Medications: If you're taking sleep aids because you're having trouble sleeping you need to talk with your physician before taking them if you're already using sedatives or tranquilizers. Also talk with your doctor first about taking a sleep aid if you have a medical issue such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis, glaucoma, or have an enlarged prostate gland and you're having a urination problem. When taking sleep medications alcohol should be avoided also.

Grapefruit: You're probably asking yourself why is grapefruit something I need to worry about, it's a healthy fruit. The truth is there are over 50 prescription drugs and over the counter medications that can have a negative reaction when combined with grapefruit according to the FDA. Not everyone carefully reads the label on medications they're taking and don't realize they're not supposed to eat or drink grapefruit juice while taking the medication. Grapefruit can delay, decrease or even enhance the absorption of some medications. 1 cup of grapefruit juice or 2 wedges of grapefruit can change the way a drug works.

The effects of grapefruit can last for up to 24 hours so it's important to always read the label on your medication. For example consuming grapefruit with anxiety drugs can cause anxiousness or sleepiness. Taking a statin medication to lower cholesterol can cause muscle damage if grapefruit is consumed.

If you're not already, it's important to always read the label on your medications whether it's a prescription drug or an over the counter medication. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking medications so you're aware of all side effects and drug interactions, it's always safer to ask instead of being sorry later.

References
US Food and Drug Administration

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