Prescriptions and You

Updated: Aug 15

In the healthcare arena, there are more opportunities today than ever before to learn to take better care of yourself. The most important is to know about the medicines you take. If you take several different medicines, see more than one doctor, or have certain health conditions, you and your doctors need to be aware of all the medicines you take to avoid potential drug interactions.

The drug interactions can make your drug less effective, cause

unexpected side effects, or increase the action of a particular drug.

It is important to read the labels for every nonprescription and prescription drug for drug interactions. With a little knowledge and common sense, you can reduce the risk of potentially harmful drug interactions and side effects.

Drug interactions fall into three broad categories:

  • Drug-Drug interactions occur when two or more drugs interact and cause unexpected side effects. For example: mixing a drug that helps you sleep (sedative) and a drug for allergies (antihistamines) can slow your reaction times and make driving a car or operating machinery dangerous.

  • Drug and food/beverage interactions result from drugs interacting with food and beverage. An example is drugs taken for pain/arthritis such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that should be taken with food, milk, and water to avoid nausea and vomiting.

  • Drug - medical condition interactions can make certain drugs harmful. An example of this drug-medical condition interaction is if you take medicine for high blood pressure and take a nasal decongestant can result in low blood pressure and feeling light-headed.

To prevent these interactions from occurring, it is important to discuss the safety of taking all prescription and nonprescription medications with your doctor or pharmacist.

Mary Ann Chadbourne