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Drug Interactions: Know How They Can Affect Your Body

Wednesday, April 17 2013

by Rodriguez Dangerfield, PharmD, RPh, Assistant Director of Pharmacy, Lakeland Regional Medical Center

With the increased availability of both prescribed and over-the-counter medications, your chance of experiencing a drug interaction also increases.  Understanding your medications and making your doctor aware of all the medications you take will help you avoid the problems caused by these drug interactions.  Drug interactions, usually broken into three categories (drug-drug interactions, drug-food interactions, and drug-condition interactions) can reduce or increase the effectiveness of the drug, cause unexpected and unpleasant side effects or may cause harm to you.  Some of the most common drug interactions include:

  • Taking sleep medication along with pain medication and/or alcohol can make you drowsy and feel more tired.
  • Taking birth control pills along with antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of the birth control pills.  You should always use an alternative method of birth control when taking antibiotics.
  • Taking nasal decongestants if you have high blood pressure can have a negative impact on your blood pressure and be potentially harmful.
  • Taking your medication with or without food can increase or decrease the drug’s effectiveness or cause side effects such as an upset stomach.

Before starting a new medication, talk to your doctor and pharmacist and ask questions about what to expect while taking this medication.  Also ask:

  • How do I take this medication?
  • Are there any drugs or foods I should avoid while taking this medication?
  • How should I take this medication with regard to food?
  • Is this medication safe to take with my conditions?

Asking these simple questions, reading the information given to you with your prescription or the information included on the packaging of over-the-counter drugs, and in some cases using a little common sense will help you avoid drug interactions and the unwanted effects associated with them.

To learn more about how your medications interact, join us for an educational pharmacy event on Thursday, April 25 in the Lakeland Regional auditorium (located at 1324 Lakeland Hills Blvd., A entrance). While the event takes place from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., during your advanced registration, you will be given a designated time to arrive for one-on-one time with expert pharmacists. Bring your completed medication list, and the pharmacists will make sure there are no duplicates and answer any questions you may have.  The event will also feature a health fair, with representatives from throughout the hospital.

 Seating is limited. Registration is required by calling 863-687-1400 by April 22.

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