Drug interactions are no laughing matter, particularly if you are taking multiple medications, or combining drugs and natural remedies. Even though drug interactions can be complex and hard to predict, there are some rules of thumb that are good to know.
Here are the ten most important drug-interaction rules to keep in mind:
1. Know your medications – It’s important to keep track of all the drugs you’re taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies. Make sure your doctor is aware of each substance you are putting in your body, so they can check for drug interactions before prescribing new medications.
2. Understand drug labels – Drug labels provide important information about drug interactions and side effects. Be sure to read them carefully and consult your pharmacist if there’s anything you don’t understand or need more information on.
3. Avoid alcohol while taking medication – Alcohol can interact with many different medications, amplifying their side effects or making them less effective. In some cases, it can even lead to dangerous drug interactions that could cause serious health problems. It’s best to avoid drinking alcohol while taking any type of medication, unless told otherwise by your doctor.
4. Don’t take two medications at the same time – Taking two medications at the same time can increase the risk of a drug interaction or side effect like drowsiness or dizziness. If possible, it’s best to wait at least one hour after taking one medication before starting another one.
5. Check for drug-food interactions – Certain foods can interact with certain medications, so it’s important to check with your doctor or pharmacist before eating any food while taking a particular drug. For example, grapefruit juice is known to interact with several different types of medication and should be avoided when possible.
6. Don’t use expired prescriptions – Expired prescriptions may not work as well as fresh ones because their strength has decreased over time due to chemical reactions in the drug itself or outside factors, such as light exposure. Old medicines are less effective than they should be. Always use fresh prescriptions.
7. Avoid using recreational drugs while on prescription meds – Recreational drugs like marijuana have been known to interact negatively with certain types of prescription medicines, so it’s best not take them together unless advised to the contrary by a healthcare professional who well knows what potential drug interactions and risks are involved and is qualified to make such a pronouncement.
8. Follow directions carefully – Remember that all directions provided on prescription medicine labels must be followed precisely to ensure proper dosage levels and effectiveness against whatever condition is being treated by the medicine itself. Failure to do so can put you at a greater risk of an adverse drug reaction and other potential health problems caused by incorrect usage levels.
9. Consult an expert if needed – If you are ever unsure about any potential drug interaction or side effect, consulting with an experienced healthcare professional is always wise, since they have specific expertise on these topics.
10. Know when not to take a medication – Finally, it’s important that people recognize when a particular drug may not be right for them given their age, current state of health, allergies, and other factors. Certain drugs just won’t be what is optimal for you at that time, regardless of the safety precautions taken. If you feel that a drug disagrees with you in an inexplicable but inarguable way, play it safe and call your doctor for guidance on what to do next.
Following these 10 rules will help ensure that you get the most out of your medication regimen without risking dangerous side effects from potentially serious interactions with medicines or foods. Remember – safety first!