How to prevent drug interactions
Many people, especially among the elderly, take more than two or three prescription pills per day. Others with certain disease states like high blood pressure, epilepsy and depression are also at risk for dangerous drug interactions.
Here are some guidelines to making sure you are not in danger of a serious drug interaction:
1. Talk to your pharmacist
Your pharmacist is an educated and trained resource for you to discuss any and all drug interactions from over-the-counter medications to prescriptions. Be sure to talk to your pharmacist every time you begin taking a new medication.
2. Research for yourself
Using online tools such as the Drug Interaction Checker to research medications can be helpful. Though nothing can replace talking to your doctor or pharmacist, this online tool is a quick way to check most drug interactions.
3. Use one pharmacy
When you keep all of your prescriptions at one pharmacy you have the benefit of your past and current medications being in one central database, and the pharmacists who work there get to know you. While you’re there, you can discuss your medications and any OTC medications that may have a negative impact on the prescriptions that you are already taking.
4. Be aware of food and beverage interactions
Your pharmacist includes stickers on your prescriptions that, if needed, contain warnings such as taking medications with or without milk, or not drinking alcohol while taking medication. These warnings should be taken seriously. For example, grapefruit juice can cause increase medicine in your blood possibly making the drug toxic. Calcium can bind with some drugs and cause them to not absorb. Follow the instructions and talk to your pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns.
5. Don’t take medications prescribed for someone else
When your doctor writes you a prescription, the dosage is specific for you and your weight, age and medical condition. If you take an antibiotic without a prescription it may not be the right antibiotic for your infection which could make it worse. And, when you don’t finish taking your medications it could make the condition worse.
6. Follow dosing instructions
Be sure to follow the exact instruction provided by your doctor and pharmacist when taking medications. Your pharmacist will label your prescription with directions on when to take the medication as well as what you what you should take it with and for how long. Stickers will also be used on the bottles when there are drug interaction warnings.
7. Communicate with your healthcare providers about all your health conditions
Patients suffering from high blood pressure or glaucoma are at a greater risk of drugs having dangerous consequences. Some OTC medicines like Sudafed can increase blood pressure even if the patient takes a prescription for high blood pressure. Other OTC medications such as antihistamines can cause further complications with Glaucoma.
8. Do not order from online pharmacies
You may think you’re saving money by buying medications via the internet, but it can be dangerous. According to the FDA, “the safety and effectiveness of imported drugs have not been reviewed by the FDA, and their identity and potency can’t be assured.” You may not get the medication that you intended to order, it may not be the right strength and it could even be expired.
The key ingredient in staying healthy is to trust your local pharmacist for all of your prescription and OTC questions and needs.