Look Out for These Drug Interactions
Sometimes taking medications isn’t about taking medications. Sometimes it’s about what you don’t put in your body that makes all the difference.
Drug interactions are a vital element of your health journey. No matter if you have one or several chronic conditions, you need to remain mindful of your medications.
Doctors and independent pharmacists usually detect potential drug interactions before they fill a prescription. However, it never hurts to know some basic — and essential — drug interaction pointers.
Here are some drug interactions you need to look out for.
The National Institute of Health classifies three different types of drug interactions:
Medications work in very specific ways, so an adverse drug interaction can have grave consequences. Let’s look at some drug interactions that may surprise you.
One is one of the most widely bought OTC items in a pharmacy shelf. The other is likewise a widely filled prescription medication.
You likely take or know someone who either takes aspirin or warfarin (generic Coumadin). Also, a doctor has likely told you how interaction-prone warfarin is. As a medication that prevents blood clots, warfarin requires an extra level of caution.
This especially applies when taking aspirin. In general, doctors will warn you to not take these medications together. Per the National Prescribing Service, an aspirin-warfarin drug interaction can result in a major hemorrhage.
As with all of these drug interactions, your doctor and independent pharmacist should detect them before the prescription reaches the fill queue. Even so, patient literacy is often an overlooked aspect of patient care.
Knowing the ins and outs of basic drug interactions can truly be a matter of life or death.
Statins and antibiotics are among the most common prescription medications people take. As common as they are, however, they are both susceptible to a wide variety of drug interactions.
This goes especially for statin patients over the age of 65. Statin users — specifically atorvastatin, lovastatin, and pravastatin — should avoid the antibiotics clarithromycin and erythromycin.
Taking them will likely result in an “increased risk of hospital admission with rhabdomyolysis, acute kidney injury, and all-cause mortality,” according to the Annals of Internal Medicine.
On the bright side, clarithromycin and erythromycin are lesser common antibiotics, so a doctor will likely prescribe you other medications (depending on your ailment). Still, always inform your healthcare professional what medications you’re taking to prevent future drug interactions.
Drug interactions come in all different shapes and sizes. They also happen in the unlikeliest of places. Fruits are an essential part of a healthy diet but can be grave for the average statin patient.
For current statin patients, this section might feel like opening an old wound. For the uninitiated, however, here’s the gist of this head-scratching drug interaction:
Per Harvard Health, your digestive system breaks down certain classes of drugs with the help of an enzyme called CYP3A. In effect, it reduces the amount of the drug that enters your bloodstream.
Grapefruit juice contains compounds called furanocoumarins, which prevents CYP3A from breaking down the drug. In effect, grapefruit juice increases the amount of statins in your bloodstream to a toxic degree.
If this sounds crazy to you, that’s because it is. Even so, grapefruit juice and statins go together as well as oil and water. Apologies to our grapefruit juice enthusiasts, but in the name of better health: it’s probably for the best.
There’s a reason why pharmacists, doctors, and other healthcare professionals advise patients to take their medications with water. Taking it with any other kind of liquid could impede the medication’s effectiveness or create serious side effects.
Even taking medications with milk can have its own share of side effects. But the most serious example of these drug interactions is mixing medications with alcohol.
As we have established, all medications can behave in unexpected and adverse ways, even when interacting with other harmless drugs. It’s a whole other story when alcohol is involved.
Mixing alcohol with any medication is bad enough, but it becomes more grim when including controlled substances such as depressants, stimulants, and opiates.
Taking any of these medications with alcohol will result in grave consequences — ranging from dizziness, memory loss, unconsciousness, unsafe drop in blood pressure, to death.
You likely know that mixing medications with alcohol is generally a common no-no. Still, patient literacy is the name of the game here, and you may have a friend or loved one who doesn’t know this.
As always, consult with your doctor or independent pharmacist about the potential drug interactions you may encounter.
Keeping a medication regimen is difficult enough. Your health journey is long and continuous, and it is indeed complex, much in part to drug interactions.
There are thousands of different drug interactions, ranging from harmless to odd (anything grapefruit juice-related) and harmful. Knowing the basics of drug interactions is a key part to maintaining quality health.
Never hesitate to ask a doctor or pharmacist about potential drug interactions. There is no such thing as a bad question and they are there to keep you steady on your health journey.
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