Drug Interactions

Drugs, most often, do not mix well with another. Drug interaction is a leading cause of hospital admissions.

A drug interaction occurs when two different drugs are taken together with one substance altering or interfering with the activity of the other. This often results in undesirable effects. Drug interactions may occur between two medications but may also be possible between medications and certain foods, alcohol, vitamins, minerals, and natural products.

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In some cases, drug interactions can have serious consequences, including failure of treatment, intensified or decreased desired effects, unwanted side effects, and toxic effects. In some rare cases, drug interactions may lead to permanent damage, even death.

Occasionally, drug interaction has good results. A combination of two or more medications may be prescribed by your doctor to achieve better therapeutic effects. It is a common prescription strategy used by doctors for the successful treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus HIV/AIDS.

Drugs can also interact with food and nutrients. Such instances occur when the body’s absorption of the medication is affected by the simultaneous ingestion of a food or nutrient. Different types of drugs are absorbed by the body differently. Some of them must be taken on an empty stomach, while others need to be taken with food. The absorption of most drugs is not affected by digestion, which allows them to be taken with or without food. You should discuss the manner of taking your medications with your doctor or pharmacist.

Grapefruit juice is an example of a food item that must be avoided when taking medications. Other foods and nutrients that must be avoided when taking medications include dairy products, magnesium, calcium, or iron. When you have to take any of these foods or minerals, it is best that you wait a few hours before or after taking your medications. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist which medication may interact with the common foods and minerals that you are taking regularly.

There are some medications that require double care, such as anticoagulants. Anticoagulants help in preventing blood clots. It belongs to a class of drugs that is very problematic in terms of drug interactions. When your doctor prescribes you with an anticoagulant, you have to inform him or your pharmacist of any other medications, both prescribed and purchased over-the-counter, and vitamins, minerals, and natural products that you are currently taking. Anticoagulants interact with many drugs, alcohol, and many common foods such as asparagus, broccoli, lettuce, and more. It is necessary that you discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any changes in your diet.

If you are a smoker or recently stopped smoking, it may be necessary that the dose of your medications be adjusted. Smoking affects the body’s expected response to many medications. If you are planning to stop smoking or planning to make a drastic change to your lifestyle, you should consult with your doctor or pharmacist about the dosage of your medications. Your doctor or pharmacist will discuss with you the potential risks of interactions with the medications you are taking.