Drug Interactions and its Dangers you Don’t Know About

drug interactions
Drug interactions

Drug interactions

You have probably once taken your medication with alcohol, milk or juice but what you didn’t know is the adverse effects these substances had on the drug you took. this article would explain what drug interactions is and what you can do to avoid harmful drug interactions.

A drug interaction is the change in the normal working of a drug in the body when taken with other substances such as other drugs, alcohol, food or beverage. It can either increase or reduce the efficacy of the drug. It is very important to know about the drug you’re taking and what substances can cause a possible adverse effect when taken with it.

Ways drugs may interact with one another

Drugs may inhibit absorption of other drugs

Drugs may compete with other drugs for metabolizing enzymes in the body.

Types of drug interactions

There are two types of drug interactions, they are;

Useful interactions

Harmful interactions

While some drug interactions are helpful, some aren’t and can lead to adverse reactions

Useful interactions

This is when a combination of drugs is used to enhance the efficacy of a drug. A perfect example is in the drugs used in the treatment of tuberculosis; an antibiotic is used in combination with another drug that inhibits the degradation of the antibiotic in the body system; co-amoxiclav is a combination of amoxicillin (an antibiotic) and clavulanic acid(an inhibitor of penicillinase). As these drugs work together, there is increased effectiveness in the actions of these drugs.

Harmful interactions

This occurs when drugs taken together either causes a harmful effect in the body, lowers the efficacy of the drug or causes the drug to not be effective at all. An example of harmful drug interaction is in the combination of Digoxin (drug used to treat heart failure) and Quinidine (a drug also used to treat heart arrhythmias). When these drugs are combined, they compete with each other and quinidine prevents the absorption and excretion of digoxin. This finally causes reduced action of digoxin in the body.       

Categories of drug interactions

Drug interactions can be divided into three main categories;

Drug-drug interactions

This happens when a drug reacts with another drug or several drugs. This can lead to enhancement in the efficacy of the drug or adverse side effects as stated above. To learn more on drug-drug interaction, here is a free drug interaction checker.

Drug-food/beverage interactions

This occurs when a drug is taken together with a food or beverage and causes interference in the drug action. This is why your doctor advises that certain antibiotics such as tetracycline shouldn’t be taken with milk; this is because, milk contains a great amount of calcium and instead of the antibiotic to be absorbed by the gut, it binds to the calcium in the milk.

Another great example is the dangers of mixing alcohol and your medication, alcohol might grossly affect how your drug will work. Taking them together can lead to nausea, vomiting, headaches and sometimes death.

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Drug-disease interaction

This is a situation whereby a drug which is used to treat a disease also escalates another pre-existing medical condition. This can be seen in drugs used to treat heart diseases which also aggravates asthma. And drugs used to treat a flu can also worsen glaucoma. This is why it is advisable to inform your doctor about any pre-existing illness before you’re given a new drug prescription.

Steps to take to avoid harmful drug interactions.

  • When visiting a doctor for a new prescription, make sure to notify them of any current medication you’re on, or any ones you’ve taken within the last couple of weeks.
  • Always ask your doctor if there are any medications, foods, beverages or drinks that should be avoided while taking your medication.
  • Be up to date with your list of medicines, especially if you don’t have only one doctor and you visit different doctors and pharmacies.
  • Always comply with the instructions. Your medication should be taken as instructed by your doctor and be knowledgeable about the various side effects of possible drug interactions.

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