Posts Tagged ‘drug-drug interactions’

Don’t Let Your Medicines Make You Sick

February 2, 2014

Most middle aged Americans are taking 2-5 medications. These medications if not used properly, can add to your illness rather than improve your health. It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans are sickened, injured or killed each year as a result of errors in prescribing, dispensing and taking medications. Here are a few tips that you might consider regarding your medications that will lead to be better health.

Start by storing your medicines properly. Your bathroom is hot and humid and may cause your medications to deteriorate or loose their potency. It is best to store your medications in the kitchen or nightstand in the bedroom.

Inaccurate dosing. If the medications is a liquid and you are advised to take a teaspoon of medication and use a teaspoon from the kitchen drawer, the volume may vary from 2.5 ml to 7.3 ml. Therefore, it is advised that you use an accurate medication spoon which is available at every pharmacy.

Skip rope not doses. Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor and don’t skip doses or discontinue the medication as soon as your symptoms subside. This is particularly true for antibiotics and patients who have infections and stop their medications as soon as the symptoms are gone may find that they develop a worse infection because the bacteria develop resistance.

Storing your medications in one bottle is to be avoided. If you are like most Americans and have multiple medications, you can get confused if they are all in one container and take the wrong medication at the wrong time of day. I suggest that you keep the prescriptions in their original bottles with the labels placed on the bottles by the pharmacist.

Shop until you drop may happen if you are getting your medications from multiple sources. Instead of picking up medications at the neighborhood pharmacy and then filling another prescription at a pharmacy near work, may result in receiving medications that may interact and not have the desired effect or have the potential for side effects, I suggest that you obtain your medications from a single pharmacist who will have a log of your medications and will caution you about conflicting medications.

Final suggestion: Keep a record of your medical encounters and carry them in a folder to each doctor you see. This avoids duplicating tests, having drugs prescribed that cause an allergic reaction or a medication interaction. Also, carry this folder with you when you travel in case you need to see a doctor out of town or go to an emergency room that doesn’t have access to your medical records.

Bottom Line: Medications do make us better if used properly and taken as prescribed by our doctors. Be prudent about your medications and you will get well!

This blog was inspired and excerpted from an article, Avoid Common Medication Mistakes, by Jodi Helmer and appeared in June 2013 Costco Connection.

When Medicines Make You Sick

September 11, 2011

Most middle age and older men and women take more than one medication on a regular basis. Unfortunately these medications can interact with each other and produce undesired effects; sometimes the side effects are worse than the disease or condition that the original medication was intended to treat. It is estimated that 4.5 million Americans will return to the doctor’s office or even have to go to the emergency room because of the side effects of medication. There are an estimated 2 million serious drug reactions each year and drug reactions are the fourth leading cause of hospital deaths exceeding only by heart disease, cancer and stroke.

Side effects can produce symptoms ranging from lethargy, insomnia, muscle aches, depression, dizziness, diarrhea, constipation, and even chest paid.

So what can you do to avoid side effects of medications? First be sure your doctor knows what medications you are currently taking. Ask if the drug he is prescribing has any interactions with the drugs you are currently taking. There are computer programs that are available that will alert the doctor of any possible drug interactions. One of the most popular programs is e-Pocrates where the doctor or nurse can write in the drug being prescribed and the drug(s) the patient is currently taking and will list any potential drug interactions. Most electronic medical record programs that are becoming so prevalent among physicians’ practices will notify the doctor of any potential drug interactions.
Also, you can go to the Internet and use one of the search engines such as Google and type in the name of the medication and the phrase “drug interactions” and you will learn what drugs should not be taken together. There are drug interaction checkers available online. One of the best is aarp.org/healthtools.

Next, ask the doctor what are the most common side effects and what is the likelihood of having any of the side effects. If the medical problem is not serious and not incapacitating, you may decide to forgo any new medications.

Also, ask your doctor if there are any lifestyle changes you can make as an alternative to taking medications. For example, if you have newly diagnosed high blood pressure, you can undergo a weight loss program and significantly reduce the salt in your diet, and you may avoid taking blood pressure lowering medications, which have side effects.

If you are taking multiple medications, you can ask your pharmacist to review all of your medications and the pharmacist will let you know which drugs are incompatible. Some pharmacists will charge you a few for this review but it is certainly worth it especially if you are older and if you take multiple medications. Also, if you are in a Medicare Advantage program, you may qualify for its medications therapy management services.

If you begin to experience a change or symptoms shortly after starting a new medication, you should contact the doctor’s office and speak to the doctor or nurse to find out if this is an expected side effect, how long it might last, or if the side effect is more serious and the drug should be discontinued.

It is also important to mention to your doctor any supplements, herbal medications, or vitamins that you routinely take as these may interact with your prescribed medications.

Final advice: Even if you are experiencing side effects due to medications, don’t stop taking the medication without calling your doctor first.

Bottom Line: For the most part drugs properly prescribed can be very helpful and will alleviate symptoms and treat your medical condition. However, all medications have side effects and you can minimize these side effects by being knowledgeable and informed about drugs and drug side effects.

A Grapefruit May Be The New Apple-But Be Careful

July 24, 2011

For generations we have been encouraged to eat an apple-a-day in order to stay healthy and keep the doctor at bay. Today, the new apple may just be the grapefruit.
Let’s look at the benefits of grapefruit:

Appetite Loss: Grapefruit reduces the feeling of hunger. This is the reason why people include grapefruit in their weight loss programs. High fiber contained by this fruit can satisfy hunger and thus may avoid any overeating temptation. Grapefruit juice, if combined with water, can quench the thirst.

Fatigue: Grapefruit is beneficial in the treatment of fatigue. It helps to dispel fatigue and general tiredness. It can bring about a refreshing feeling in you when you drink equal amount of grapefruit juice and lemon juice.

Acidity: The fresh grapefruit juice has alkaline reaction after digestion. The citric acid increases the effect of the alkalinity reaction after digestion. The juice extracted from the grapefruit is beneficial in preventing the acid formation and many other diseases that arise due to the presence of acidity in the body.

Indigestion: Grapefruit is useful for solving the problem of indigestion. It is very light as compared to other food articles and thus, acts immediately on indigestion by easing the heat and irritation caused in the stomach. It improves the flow of digestive juices, thereby improving the digestive systems.

Insomnia: A simple glass of grapefruit juice, if drunk before going to bed, can promote healthy and sweet sleep and thus, alleviates insomnia.

Constipation: A glass full of fresh squeezed grapefruit in the morning is the best remedy to control the constipation. Grapefruits are high in fiber and they result best in stimulating the colon and other parts of the body.

Urinary Disorders: Grapefruit juice is quite rich in potassium and vitamin C and thus, works as the best medicine in the case of recurrent urinary tract infections.

Lowers Cholesterol: The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that consumption of grapefruit can reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as well as triglycerides.

Caveats on grapefruit
As with any medication, there are considerations about the use of grapefruit with medications. More than 50 prescription and over-the-counter drugs are affected by grapefruit juice, including some of the most commonly prescribed medications. This list includes a number of medications used to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, pain, erectile dysfunction, and allergies.

Grapefruit contains a substance that inhibits the enzyme called CYP3A4. This powerful enzyme breaks down numerous medications such as the cholesterol-lowering drug, Lipitor. Patients who take Lipitor, or some antidepressant medication, and eat grapefruit, can have toxic levels of the medications because the grapefruit inhibits CYP34A.

So what are patients to do? Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist to find out about your specific drug. All new medications are tested for drug interactions, including grapefruit juice, before they are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When you order medications in the mail or pick them up at your local pharmacy, you should receive a patient information sheet, which will let you know if your drug is affected by grapefruit juice. Some pharmacies may also put a warning label on your medication bottle. If you are not sure, ask the pharmacist.

Bottom Line: Grapefruit juice may be helpful for many conditions and improve overall health. However, there are precautions about using grapefruit because of interactions with certain medications. If you have any questions, check with your doctor or your pharmacist.