According to a 2017 survey, 55 percent of Americans are taking prescription medications on a regular basis. Those who take prescription drugs take an average of four separate medications. Taking more than one medication can become complicated. Patients who take even one medication should be aware of drug interactions, how to avoid them, and how to find out what they are.
Drug Interactions and Over-The-Counter Drugs
You may only take one prescription drug every day, but if you also take a daily vitamin or supplement, you need to check that it doesn’t interact with your medication. Your medication may even interact with over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that you only take periodically. Whatever the drug, and whatever the purpose for the drug, it can interact with others that can make it less affective. Known interactions are listed in drug information for the safety of consumers because some drug interactions can have serious ramifications. For instance, an antihistamine and a sedative taken together can cause drowsiness and slow reactions that can put you in danger behind the wheel. Some antibiotics can decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives, causing an unplanned pregnancy. It’s important to know your medications, and understand drug-to-drug interactions.
Get to Know Your Labels
When you read the information that comes with your medication, you may find that it shouldn’t be taken with certain foods or drugs. If you routinely eat a certain food, or take a medication that is listed, you should consult your doctor about taking this drug. It may be that you can consume the listed foods or drugs X number of hours after taking the drug. For instance, taking supplements within four hours of levothyroxine can cause the body to absorb less of the drug. Some drugs, such as antidepressants, can be deadly when combined with drinking alcohol. If you are given a drug and advised not to drink alcohol or eat or drink a certain thing while on this drug, it is not a suggestion; it is medical advice. Reading the drug information provided by the manufacturer and the pharmacy is the best way to prevent a dangerous drug interaction. It’s also the best way to identify symptoms of drug allergies and serious side effects.
Things to Consider When Starting Your Med
When your doctor prescribes a new drug, the pharmacist usually consults with you. This would be a great time to ask the pharmacist if your current medications will interact with the new one. If the doctor prescribes it, and the pharmacist gives you the go-ahead, then the rest is up to you.
- Read the drug information that comes with your medication
- Check the generic name and active ingredients to avoid an allergic reaction
- Check the generic name and active ingredients to avoid overdosing on certain drugs
- Pay attention to your drug’s effectiveness so that you can notify your doctor of changes
- Keep a complete and current medication list to give to your doctor