People turn to medication to relieve their ailments and to heal. However, if not prescribed or properly administered, drugs can cause harm. The patient taking the prescription also bears responsibility for following the doctor’s recommendations and the instructions from the package.
What is more, in this day and age it is easy to access information on any topic. The internet is a valuable resource for cultivating your knowledge on health-related issues (as long as you access trustworthy resources).
One of the most common problems that can occur with medication is a dangerous interaction. This can make the drug ineffective, increase its reactivity, or trigger a wide array of side-effects, which can put the patient’s health at risk. The most vulnerable groups appear to be women and seniors who take multiple drugs.
What is Drug Interaction?
Drug interaction can be triggered by a medication coming in contact and interacting with other substances. The most common reactions are for the medication to be less effective, overly potent, or cause side effects. In some cases, drug interaction might not cause any harm to you.
Types of Drug Interaction
Under the umbrella term of drug interaction, according to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), there are three main categories:
1. Drug-Medical Condition Interaction
Certain medical conditions can trigger side effects from specific prescription drugs. What is more, a medication that is good for one health condition might be harmful to another. A rather common example is that some decongestants can be dangerous for people diagnosed with hypertension.
2. Drug-Drug Interactions
This kind of interaction occurs when medications come in contact with each other, changing how they act. To avoid this, make sure to inform both your doctor and pharmacist about all other prescription drugs you are taking.
3. Drug-Food Interactions
Some medications can interact with a specific food, herbs, or alcohol, causing adverse reactions. In many cases, the patient should not consume alcohol while on a prescription drug. Alcohol consumption may nullify the effect of the pill, or it will weaken its action.
How to Minimize the Risk of Drug Interaction
Take precautionary measures to lower the risk of a drug interaction. It is best to consult a doctor and a pharmacist before taking any medication, even if it is over-the-counter. Also, they need to know all of the drugs you are currently taking.
Both the doctor and the pharmacist inform the patient about how to (self-)administer the medication. However, it is wise to always read the instruction sheets in the package. Always follow the instructions you receive or read on the packaging.
Finally, you can always conduct additional online research. There is plenty of data available about this topic on trusted medical sources. Make sure to learn about dangerous prescription drugs and check if you are currently taking one. Consult this websitefor possible drug interactions. All you need to do is to enter the name of the drugs in the indicated field.
Which Patients are at High Risk?
Although everyone is exposed to some level of drug interaction risk, as long as they take medication, certain segments of the population are more vulnerable. In the following section we will take a closer look at which patient groups are more at risk and why.
One of the most exposed groups to dangerous prescription drug interactions is older adults. This is because most of them use multiple medications to keep their health in check.
A gender gap can be surprising in this context, but women are more likely to incur drug interactions. One explanation is that they are more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine than men. In some cases, these can interfere with a drug’s action.
Patients Who Use Multiple Medications
Regardless of age or gender, people who take more than one medication are automatically at risk. Also, taking supplements together with prescription drugs can be a risky move. A survey run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 20% of the US adult population takes at least three drugs.
Patients Who Consult More Doctors
If you consult more than one medical expert, inform each one about all the medications prescribed to you. Otherwise, they can unknowingly expose you to drug interactions.
Minimize the Risk
The most important thing to do for minimizing the risk of drug interaction is to keep your doctor and pharmacist informed. Also, make sure to read about the specific medication that you are using. If your research has brought to light some concerns, contact your doctor and talk things over.
About the Author
With a law degree under his belt and years of experience, Mark Scott set off to make the law more accessible to all. He decided to help people lost in the maze of legal terminology to find their way. Mark writes clear and concise pieces and gives simple advice that is easy to follow. On account of positive feedback from readers, he decided to dedicate more of his time to this goal and became a legal columnist. In his writings, Mark covers a wide array of topics, like how to seek legal counsel, or how to deal with different procedures. Furthermore, he directs his readers toward other trustworthy resources for more in-depth information.