An average Tria Health patient takes 8 prescription medications. Most older Americans take multiple medications each day for a variety of conditions. While most patients are aware of potential side effects with prescription medication, it is important to be aware of combining certain drugs and other substances. Being aware of drug interactions can help prevent serious side effects and help ensure medication effectiveness. Below are the most common medication interactions.
Types of Medication Interactions
There are a multitude of side effects that can occur from drug-drug interactions as there are so many possible drug combinations. Drug-drug interactions can lead to a prescription medication losing effectiveness, allowing for a disease-state to go unmanaged or it can lead to dangerous side effects like heart damage or death.
Certain foods can affect the medications you take but medicine can also affect how your body digests and processes food.
A common misconception with supplements is just because they are natural, does not mean they are safe. Supplements can change how the body absorbs, metabolizes, or excretes drugs and influence how potent the drug is in the system.
Most Common Drug-Drug Interactions
Digoxin and Quinidine:
Digoxin is a standard heart medication and Quinidine is used to treat heart rhythm issues. When taking both drugs at the same time, the levels of dioxin in blood plasma is known to rise, resulting is nausea, vomiting, kidney issues, and can be fatal.
Warfarin (Coumadin) and Ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin):
Warfarin is a blood thinning medication that is used to prevent the formation of blood clots. Ibuprofen is an over the counter medication used to treat pain and fever. Ibuprofen can increase the risk of significant bleeding events for patients who take Warfarin, and this combination should only be used with the approval of your physician.
Clonidine and Propranolol:
Both Clonidine and Propranolol are used to treat high blood pressure. Propranolol is also used to prevent migraines. These drugs combined can increase blood pressure instead of lowering it.
Amlodipine and Simvastatin:
Amlodipine is a medication used to treat high blood pressure and Simvastatin is used to treat high cholesterol. When used together, you must limit the dose of Simvastatin due to the increased risk of side effects such as muscle pain. There are numerous other cholesterol lowering options for patients if they are on Amlodipine.
Most Common Drug-Food/Beverage Interactions
Taking MAO inhibitors like Nardil or Parnate for depression and eating chocolate can be dangerous. It may taste good, but it raises blood pressure.
Grapefruit can interfere with certain medications, in particular statins. It can cause these drugs to be absorbed in higher amounts making them more potent, resulting in a greater risk of potential side effects.
If you are taking Lanoxin (digoxin) for congestive heart failure, licorice can increase your risk of toxicity. Additionally, licorice might also reduce the effects of blood pressure medications.
With any medication, avoid alcohol as it can increase or decrease your drugs effect. Some interactions may be more serious than others. Alcohol also affects insulin or oral diabetic pills. It prolongs their effects which leads to low blood sugar.
Vitamin K-Rich Foods like Kale, Spinach, and Leafy Greens:
Too much of this nutrient can antagonize the anti-clotting effect in blood thinning medications and prevent the drug from working.
Dairy products like cheese and yogurt can decrease the absorption of antibiotics. If you do eat dairy, try and eat it one to two hours before taking antibiotics.
Most Common Drug-Supplement Interactions
- St. John’s Wort: This herb can reduce the concentration of medications in the blood.
- Vitamin E: Taking Vitamin E with a blood thinning medication could increase your risk of bleeding as it can increase anti-clotting activity.
- Ginseng: Combining ginseng with MAO inhibitors may cause headaches, trouble sleeping, and nervousness. Furthermore, ginseng can increase the bleeding effects of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
- Valerian: This herbal supplement has been used to treat insomnia and anxiety. When mixed with drugs however, it can increase dizziness and drowsiness.
Drug Interaction Checker:
If you want to check and see if any of your medications can react with other drugs, foods, beverages, or supplements.
Tria Health can help
If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible drug interactions or savings opportunities!