There are many risks to taking more than one medication together. The resulting drug interactions can be costly to your health and life and may cause a range of symptoms/conditions that can be severe and harmful. This harm may result from over-the-counter medication you are taking on your own, medications prescribed by your physician, or a combination thereof.
What are Drug Interactions?
Drug interactions happen when one drug interferes with the way your body reacts to another drug, leading to side effects or complications that may not just be harmful but fatal in some situations.
What Can Happen If You Have a Drug Interaction?
Many medications that are commonly prescribed can result in interactions when combined with another drug. The combination can either reduce the beneficial effects of the individual drugs or enhance their effects and side effects. It is the latter effect that is usually more harmful. Common complications that can arise from an interaction are many and can include cardiovascular or neurological symptoms. In the realm of pain medications, the adverse interactions may include dizziness, drowsiness, balance issues, respiratory depression, and seizures. These symptoms may be exaggerated by alcohol intake.
Most of us are aware of the drug overdose deaths that are happening in the United States that accounted for almost 100,000 just in the last one year. Many of these deaths are related to drug interactions, especially a combination of opioids, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and alcohol.
How to Avoid Drug Interactions
It’s very important that patients are well aware of the medications or combinations they have been taking and have discussed these with their prescribing physician. Pharmacists can and do play an important role in this by discussing the concerns with the patients when they are dispensing these medications.
If you do notice a drug interaction, it’s important to let your prescriber know immediately, especially if the symptoms are severe. Quick management of these symptoms can result in a positive outcome.
Drug interactions are a serious concern that can affect your health and life. Being aware of potential drug interactions and preventing them is vital. Knowing what to do if you do experience a drug interaction can help you stay safe.