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What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Drug Interactions

What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Drug Interactions And Srug Side EffectsBill’s concern about drug interactions is well founded.  The potential for drug interaction is extensive. The more medications a person takes, the higher the risk for drug interaction.  As Bill points out, this is a special concern for seniors and family caregivers.

It makes sense to use the same pharmacy to fill all or your prescriptions.  At least if you use the same pharmacy, it is possible to ask the pharmacist about your concerns with drug interactions.  After all, the pharmacist is the drug expert, not your doctor.

It is a good practice to carry a list of all of the medications you are taking, including over the counter meds, with you to the pharmacy and show it to the pharmacist when you pick up your  prescription.  At the very least, get in the habit of asking the pharmacist when picking up a prescription what other drugs and foods might interact with it. Even when foods do not directly interact with drugs, they may affect the drug’s absorption into the body.

Learning More About Drug Interactions

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the drugs you take. When your doctor prescribes a new drug, discuss all OTC and prescription drugs, dietary supplements, vitamins, botanicals, minerals and herbal remedies you take, as well as the foods you eat.

Ask your pharmacist for the package insert for each prescription drug you take. The package insert provides more information about potential drug interactions.  It’s a lot of small print, I know, but reading it could save your life.

Questions To Ask About Drug Interactions

Before taking a drug, ask your doctor or pharmacist the following questions:

  • Can I take it with other drugs?
  • Should I avoid certain foods, beverages or other products?
  • What are possible drug interaction signs I should know about?
  • How will the drug work in my body?
  • Is there more information available about the drug or my condition (on the Internet or in health and medical literature)?

Know how to take drugs safely and responsibly. Remember, the drug label will tell you:

  • What the drug is used for
  • How to take the drug
  • How to reduce the risk of drug interactions and unwanted side effects

Bill is really smart to carry his thumb drive with his health history and medication information with him but most people would not think to do that.  Until this becomes a widespread practice I am not too sure how may emergency personnel would know to look for vital information there.

For anyone owning a smart phone…there’s an app that can help.  Check out Epocrates for iPhone  or Epocrates for Android.  This app will let you:

-Access clinical  information on thousands of prescription, generic, and OTC drugs
- In-depth formulary information
- Pill ID: identify pills by imprint code and physical characteristics
- InteractionCheck: check for adverse reactions between up to 30 drugs at a time
- Dozens of calculations, such as BMI and GFR

There is also a great app by Drugs.com called Pill Reminder. It is not only a pill and refill reminder, but also a comprehensive personal medication record (PMR) app for your iPhone.

If you want some more information, here is a good article from The People’s Pharmacy about drug interactions.

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