We live in a world where incredible scientific advances have handed has drugs to treat uncountable conditions that appeared untouchable in the past. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, 48.4% of Americans use at least one prescription drug in the space of 30 days. The knowledge that many of our common ailments can be addressed is encouraging. However, the wide range of medications available increases the possibility of drug interactions.
Here is what you need to know about drug interactions and why medication management is vital in an age where drugs are available for most conditions.
What is a drug interaction?
A drug interaction is a combination of a drug with other substances that alters the effect of the drug on the body. Consequently, the drug may become less or more potent than intended and cause unexpected side effects.
When you use multiple medications, see more than one doctor, or have certain medical conditions, you need to be mindful of drug interactions. Each of your doctors needs to be aware of all the drugs, vitamins, supplements, and herbs you are using. Even when taking a single medication, your doctor or pharmacist needs to know about it and advise you on possible interactions.
Type of Drug Interactions
There are many different types of drug interactions you need to be aware of:
1) Drug-drug Interactions
A drug-drug reaction occurs between two or more prescription drugs. For example, taking warfarin (Coumadin), a blood thinner, with fluconazole (Diflucan), an antifungal medication, would result in a potentially dangerous increase in bleeding.
2) Drug-nonprescription treatment Interactions
This is an interaction that occurs between a prescription drug and a nonprescription treatment like supplements, vitamins, herbs, or over-the-counter medications. For example, if you are taking a diuretic, a drug that rids the body of excess salt and water, and ibuprofen (Advil), the effectiveness of the diuretic will be reduced because ibuprofen causes the body to retain fluid and salts.
This interaction happens when the food or beverage you take alters the effect of the drug. Drug food interactions can result in significant side effects like organ damage.
There are medications that interact with alcohol and should not be taken together to avoid the harmful side effects.
Some drugs may worsen a disease or a condition due to the changes that occur within the body in illness. For example, people with hypertension are advised against taking decongestants for colds as the drugs increase blood pressure.
Factors in Drug Interactions
While educating yourself on the potential for drug interactions is important, the information might not be sufficient as there are more factors that influence the occurrence of drug interactions.
Some of the factors that determine the occurrence of drug interactions include:
- Lifestyle (including diet and exercise)
- Duration you have been using the drug
- Drug dosage
- Drug formulation
- The order in which you take the medications
What Can you Do to Minimize Drug Interactions?
It is important to take steps towards ensuring the risk of drug interactions is minimal. One strategy is by reading the labels on the drugs and the inserts to know the various interactions. However, our loved ones who are older take multiple medications and might not remember the correct order of administering the drugs or the interactions.
The most effective way to avoid interactions is to have a dedicated professional to help with your medication.
Shot Health provides medication management services. Our team of qualified professionals will guide you as you take your medications, minimizing the interactions and ensuring you obtain the maximum benefit.
Visit our website and book for medication management services today!