By: Yemi Alade, Director, Pharmacy Operations
Understanding your prescribed medications and how to take them will ensure that they are effective and help prevent serious drug interactions. Taking multiple medications for different purposes, using supplements while on prescribed medications, or ingesting your drugs in combination with some foods are some factors that increase the risk of drug interactions. Drug interactions can either enhance how one or more of the medication(s) work, causing an unintended increase in intensity of side effects of the medication(s), or diminish the drug’s effectiveness, preventing it from working as expected. Your metabolism, age, genetics, and any possible liver or kidney issues, may also affect how a drug works for you.
To lessen the risk of drug interactions:
- Know the names of your medications and the reason why you are prescribed that drug. Keep an updated list of all your medications with you for emergency reasons.
- Ask your pharmacist or other health care provider for the proper way to take your medications – with food, on an empty stomach or avoiding certain foods or alcohol are some specific instructions that could help prevent side effects, drug-food interactions, better predict the absorption of the medications, etc.
- Fill all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy to maintain a complete medication profile and allow your pharmacist keep track of all your medications and identify potential drug interactions.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, including herbal supplements and vitamins, may seem harmless, but they can interact with prescription drugs. Always inform your healthcare provider and pharmacist about any OTC medications or supplements you are taking.
- Schedule regular consults with your pharmacist who can explain what your medications are for and how to take them. Booking a MedsCheck® (a 20-30 minute appointment with your pharmacist) will give you valuable understanding of your medications and help prevent unintended drug interactions.
Taking these simple steps will help you feel better.