Drug Interactions: Know the Four Main Types of Interactions

Drug Interactions: Know the Four Main Types of Interactions

“I take a lot of medicine and I’m aware that some medicines are not supposed to be taken together. Who should I rely on to help me know what’s what?” – B.C. Manning, IA

Dear B.C.,

It’s fabulous that you are taking a proactive approach! So many people learn the hard way.

There are four main types of interactions:

  1. drug-drug interactions, which happen when two or more medicines cause negative side effects when taken together;
  2. drug-condition interactions, which happen when a known condition interacts negatively with a drug you are taking;
  3. drug-food interactions, which happen when eating specific foods while on a medication;
  4. and last there are drug-alcohol interactions, which occur when you consume alcohol while taking a medication.

Beyond these interactions, sometimes drugs that normally work well together may not work well together FOR YOU! As our bodies change, it can affect how medicine is absorbed and used. If your organs can’t process the medications as efficiently as they once could, negative side effects can occur. Also, weight changes and illness can have a drastic effect on how your body processes medications.

Make a list of your medications and include the dosage strength and the number of times per day you take each. Keep this list in your wallet and share it with each of your doctors at every appointment. Your pharmacist is another valuable resource – he or she is the expert on drug interactions. If possible, have all your prescriptions filled by the same pharmacy and get to know your pharmacist.

Never be afraid to ask questions when a new medicine is prescribed and be aware of any side-effects you experience when a new drug is added. Although we want to rely on the professionals to inform us, we must be our own health care advocates!

Stay Well,

Nurse Allison

Source: https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143566.htm

Further reading:  Why Health Information Management is Important