Each year, hundreds of thousands of people end up in the emergency room due to adverse drug reactions. Many of them are caused by taking two or more medications that don’t interact well with one another. Others involve a reaction between a food and a medication or an overdose.
If you or someone you care for is taking any medications, it’s important to know some drug-savvy facts. Knowing how to avoid adverse reactions to medications can keep you and your loved ones safe.
- Vitamins, supplements, and medications need to be considered “medications.” Some herbs and over-the-counter drugs will react to a prescription you’re taking, even if they’re considered to be natural. Don’t start taking something new without first discussing it with your physician.
- Consider using one pharmacy for all your prescriptions — and ask the pharmacist if you have questions. If all your meds are under one pharmacy, the staff may be able to identify a potential problem before it happens. If you’re not sure about taking an over-the-counter drug and prescription together, don’t be afraid to ask. Most pharmacies have a database where they can look up specific medications and their interactions.
- If you have children in your house, lock your medications or keep them well out of reach. Thousands of children are harmed by accidentally ingesting medications each year. Children can easily overdose on adult medications and even seemingly harmless items such as children’s vitamins. These overdoses can be fatal.
- Older adults are at a higher risk of adverse reactions because they typically take a greater number of medications. Different dosages may be difficult to remember, resulting in an overdose or a problem when two or more medications mix. If you are caring for an older adult, help them keep a current list of medications and dosages and what the drug is for. They should keep the list in their wallet or purse and take it to all doctor appointments.
- Antibiotics, insulin, blood thinners, and opioid painkillers are some of the top medications that cause reactions and interactions. If you get a prescription for any of these, make sure your physician is aware of each medication you’re taking and your health history.
- Whenever you get a new medication, make sure you understand how and when to take it. Details such as with or without food, time of day, how often, and how much are all critical pieces of information to know.
- Be aware of foods that can interact with medications. Some food-drug interactions can be very dangerous. Grapefruit juice, leafy greens, and black licorice are a few foods to watch out for when you’re taking prescription medications.
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Your primary care physician can help you manage your healthcare, and answer any questions you have about your health. Your PCP will help you navigate your well visits and specialist care throughout your life, and will be your health care advocate. To find a skilled primary care physician at CarePoint Health, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.