The Danger of Drug Interactions and How to Prevent Them

The Danger of Drug Interactions and How to Prevent Them

You may be on blood pressure medications, diabetes medications, pain medications, or blood thinners. You may not think twice about adding an over-the-counter allergy pill or a weight-loss supplement to the mix. If you’re taking more than one of these medications or supplements, however, you are at increased risk for drug interactions. 

The active ingredients in medications, food substances, and supplements can all interact and affect drug effectiveness and your health. Certain interactions can increase the power of some drugs and diminish the power of others. 

The team at South Plains Rural Health Services can help you avoid drug interactions. Let us help you keep your medications straight, so they help you find relief from illness, rather than causing more health problems. 

Why drug interactions happen

Drugs don’t really cause a chemical reaction in your body. A drug interaction occurs when one drug affects the metabolism and effectiveness of another. When you combine certain medications or substances, a drug can become more powerful or less powerful. 

When a drug becomes more powerful, its effects are greater and may be equal to an overdose. If a drug’s effectiveness is weakened, it may not be doing its job in helping alleviate your symptoms or preventing health problems. 

An example of a drug interaction is taking coumadin with the antibiotic, metronidazole. When taken together, you are at increased risk of severe bleeding. Or, for example, women who take the anti-seizure drug, phenytoin, should know that it can decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills, increasing the risk of an unplanned pregnancy. 

Foods also have the potential to affect a drug’s effectiveness. For example, you’re on a blood thinner like coumadin, foods with a lot of vitamin K can make it less effective. Vitamin K is found in leafy greens, like kale and broccoli.

How to avoid drug interactions

First and foremost, take medications prescribed by your provider at South Plains Rural Health as dosed. 

It’s essential that you reveal all medications and supplements you take when you come in for physical exams, medication management appointments, or chronic disease evaluation. If you’ve been prescribed medication by another provider, update your records at our office right away. Clarify whether it’s okay to take over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen or aspirin, alongside your prescription medications. 

Fill your prescriptions at the same pharmacy, so the pharmacist has a record of your medications and can warn you of potential interactions. Ask to speak to the pharmacist, too. Your drug may come with several pamphlets that describe drug interactions, but the information can be buried and hard to decipher. Ask the pharmacist about foods or other medications to avoid, so you don’t accidentally mix incompatible substances. 

Before taking any supplements, it’s best to check with your provider at South Plains Rural Health. We can help you understand the possible benefits of the supplement and whether it will interact with a medication you’re taking. 

The team at South Plains Rural Health Services have the expertise to help you avoid dangerous drug interactions. Call the nearest location today, or use the online tool to set up an appointment.

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