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Drug Interactions: What You Need to Know
Types of Drug Interactions
Symptoms of Drug Interactions
- Sharp increase or decrease in blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Buildup of toxins that could damage vital organs, such as the liver or heart
How to Avoid Drug Interactions
- Read the labels of all over-the-counter and prescription medications and dietary supplements carefully, paying particular attention to the correct dosage and to the potential side effects and interactions associated with the drug or supplement.
- Make sure you understand the benefits as well as the potential risks of any medication you are taking. Look specifically for the section titled warnings on the labels of over-the-counter medications.
- Keep a record of all the medications and supplements you take, and share it with all the doctors and pharmacists involved in your care.
- Talk to your doctor before taking any new medication or supplement.
- Use one pharmacy for all your prescription and over-the-counter medications.
- Ask your pharmacist whether you should take a particular medication with food or on an empty stomach and if there are any foods or beverages that could interact with the drug.
- Report any side effects you experience from any medications to your doctor or pharmacist.
- Take medications only as directed and do not take any medications that were prescribed for someone else.
- Purchase supplements and vitamins from a reputable source.
- Look for a United States Pharmacopeia (USP) notation on the bottle of your supplement. USP is an organization that sets standards for prescription and OTC medications, healthcare products, food ingredients, and supplements.
United States Pharmacopeia (USP) http://www.usp.org
US Food and Drug Administration http://www.fda.gov
Canadian Medical Association http://www.cma.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Drug interactions: what you should know. United States Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/ucm163354.htm . Updated August 28, 2013. Accessed August 29, 2013.
Avoiding drug interactions . United States Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/fdinter.html . Updated November 28, 2008. Accessed August 29, 2013.
Mallet L, Spinewine A, Huang A. The challenge of managing drug interactions in elderly people. [review]. Lancet. 2007;370:185-191.
Neuvonen PJ. Interactions with the absorption of tetracyclines. Drugs. 1976;11(1):45-54.
Sansone R, Sansone L. Tramadol. Psychiatry. 2009 April;6(4):17-21. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2714818/ . Accessed August 29, 2013.
Schardt D. St. John's worts and all. Nutrition Action Health Letter website. Available at: http://www.cspinet.org/nah/9%5F00/stjohnswort.html . Accessed August 29, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods , MD
- Update Date: 08/29/2013