Prescription drugs can save your life. But interactions between prescription drugs and other drugs or with illnesses or conditions you have can lead to significant consequences. Drug interactions may make your drug less effective, cause unexpected side effects, or increase the action of a particular drug. Some drug interactions can even be harmful to you. See examples of common interactions and what their results are in the table on this webpage.
Keep in mind that this table does not show you:
-all the interactions with the drug in the left column
-other things that might interact with drugs in the middle
-all the effects of the interaction between the two drugs
(as shown in the right column)
How Can I prevent these interactions?
Here are several suggestions for limiting the possibility of experiencing these effects:
* Make sure that all of your doctors know all of the medications you're taking, including over-the-counter drugs. Elderly persons in particular may see several different specialists. All your doctors should know about anything you're taking
* Make sure you know all the medications you're taking. If you're on several, you should keep their names and doses jotted down on an index card in your wallet or purse. That way, you can reference them if you happen to end up in the emergency room or if you begin working with a new healthcare provider.
* Read the labels. Before using any product, including an over-the-counter medication, read the label for interactions. If you don't know whether one of the medications you're taking fits a category of drugs you shouldn't use, ask the pharmacist for assistance.
* Make friends with your pharmacist. If you always go to the same pharmacy, your pharmacist will have all your drugs on record and can alert you to potential interactions. If possible, finding a pharmacy where there are only one or two pharmacists who are always on duty will improve the chances of them catching problems.
* Even topical medications can interact. You may be receiving an antibiotic ointment for a skin condition - ask your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear sunscreen (to prevent the sun interacting with the medication and giving you a burn!) while using it.
* Other things to think about:
1. Herbal supplements, even if purchased in the store, may not have a complete list of interactions available. Speak with your physician about whether these herbal supplements might harm you - if you're not sure, it's not worth the risk.
2. If you enjoy alcoholic beverages, ask your pharmacist about possible interactions with your medications; you may need to give them a miss until you are through with your medication
3. Even things that don't seem like "real" medicine (antacids, vitamins, diet pills, fiber supplements) may make it difficult for you to absorb your medications or interfere with their function; your pharmacist can be a good resource in determining what to take.
Harvard School of Medicine, "Bad Combinations," Harvard Health Letter, April 2004.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), "Drug interactions: what you should know," http://www.fda.gov/cder/consumerinfo/druginteractions.htm.
Copyright (C) Shoppe.MD and Ian Mason, 2004-2005
Ian Mason, owner of Shoppe.MD, your source for Online Prescription Medications, drug information and support forums.
Ian is a fat-to-fit student of health, weight loss, exercise, and several martial arts; maintaining several websites in an effort to help provide up-to-date and helpful information for other who share his interests in health of body and mind.