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Drug, food Interactions

Drug, food Interactions


by Joann Ince-Jack 16.JUN.06

Medications are prescribed to treat and cure illnesses. They should be taken properly so that they give the greatest benefit. Many people have the mistaken notion that, being natural, all food and herbs are safe, however, this is not necessarily so. Your physician or pharmacist will often discuss with you potential interactions of a drug with another drug. Your pharmacist will screen new medications against the ones you are already taking for potential drug interactions and precautions.{{more}}

In addition to medications, foods may alter the effects of drugs by interfering with the manner in which the drugs are intended to work. The optimal effect of a drug may not be achieved, and thus you may receive an overdose or an under dose. Although some interactions are harmless, others can lead to serious side effects that have the potential to cause injury.

Furthermore, food interactions can prevent you from receiving the intended dosage of medication needed and can prolong your illness. It is important to realize that food-drug interaction can occur with prescription medication, non-prescription (over-the-counter) medications, vitamins, alcohol, and herbal products. Changes in a medicine’s effect due to an interaction with food, alcohol or caffeine can be significant; however, there are many individual factors that influence the potential for such variations, like dose, age, sex, and overall health.

There are three major types of food and drug interactions:

1. Some drugs interfere with the absorption, excretion or use in the body of one or more nutrients.

2. Certain foods may affect (increase or decrease) the absorption of a drug into the body. Usually, foods and beverages interfere with drug absorption. Some ingredients in beverages can interact with your medication and cause harm and/or prolonged illness. You should look on the labels of beverages for a complete list of their ingredients.

3. Certain foods may alter the chemical actions of a drug so that it loses its therapeutic effect on the body. Some reactions can be dangerous and in rare cases can lead to death.

With any medication, it is important to read all the instructions before taking it, and to consult your physician or pharmacist if you have any questions. The written information your pharmacist provides will outline important details about taking your medication. In addition to the written information, your doctor or pharmacist should be able to clarify and provide more comprehensive information.

In the event that you experience an adverse event, you should contact your doctor immediately. Often there are general signs and symptoms that may help you identify that something is going wrong. Some of these signs include shortness of breath, a flushed feeling, a faster or slower heart rate, an upset stomach, sleepiness, vision problems, constipation, and heartaches.

As a general rule, it is best to take most medications with water. In addition, alcohol should always be avoided when taking any medication. Alcohol can decrease absorption of the medication, and increase drowsiness. For example, alcohol can interact with metronidazole (an antibiotic) and cause flushing, a faster breathing rate, a faster pulse rate, and even death.

You should remember most of the benefits of avoiding drug-food interactions include maximizing the efficacy of the drug in addition to reducing adverse effects and side effects. Depending on the drug, you may have to separate the times between taking a drug and eating, or take the drug and food at the same time, or even avoid a certain food altogether. It is important to read information about each medication you are taking and to contact your doctor immediately if you experience an unwanted side effect.

Make sure your doctor and pharmacist know about every drug you are taking, including nonprescription drugs and any dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals and herbals. If you have problems or experience side effects related to medication, call your health care provider right away. It is also important to remember that many drugs interact with other drugs and may cause serious medical conditions.