Drug interactions are a serious concern for individuals who are managing more than one health problem and taking multiple medications.
According to the AARP, the average senior takes four prescription medications per day, in addition to over-the-counter medications, supplements and vitamins. If this sounds familiar, it could be time your meds got a check-up.
A medication review involves gathering all of your prescriptions and over-the-counter products and bringing them to your pharmacist to discuss with you. Be sure to include any herbs, supplements and vitamins you take, as well.
The following are a few things a medication review can tell you.
Exactly when and how you should take your medications
Certain prescriptions should be taken with a full glass of water or with food. Failure to do so sometimes results in side effects that might deter people from taking their prescription, says Kristen Eblen, PharmD, at Lake Regional Pharmacy.
“Certain medications may be harsh on an empty stomach,” Eblen says. “If you don’t eat food when you take them, it may cause nausea and dizziness. Many of these reactions can be avoided by carefully following instructions.”
Your pharmacist can alert you to these medications. Other examples include medicines that might make you drowsy that can be taken specifically at night. Your pharmacist may even be able to help you save money by making you aware of a new generic form of your prescription, or if you are taking two medications at steady doses, recommending a combination pill.
What OTC drugs may be interacting with your prescriptions
It seems everyone gets allergies during certain times of the year. Often, an over-the-counter drug clears it up. But, is it OK to give that same drug to your 83-year-old father?
“Drugs are created to be powerful,” Eblen says. “Even over-the-counter drugs, which means they can interact with your prescription medications. Ask you pharmacist or doctor before you take drugs not prescribed to you, even if it’s just an over-the-counter allergy medication or a cough syrup.”
If your supplements are helpful, hurtful or just expensive
Some supplements can have powerful effects, too, including side effects.
“Most herbs and supplements are not regulated by the FDA,” Eblen says. “You should be careful when deciding to use them, especially with other prescriptions. Your pharmacist can tell you if your supplements could interact with other drugs you take, or other special precautions you should take with certain supplements.”
Supplements also can be expensive, especially when you don’t need them. And, some of them don’t work as well as others.
“Your pharmacist can help you select the right supplement at the right amount,” Eblen says. “They also can tell you if another supplement has been known to work better for your particular problem.”
Page 2 of 2 - Double check that your medications are all working well together
“It’s a matter of people knowing what medications they’re taking,” Eblen says. “Make sure everyone knows all of the medications you’re taking, especially if you’re being treated by more than one physician.”
For example, common cholesterol medications can interact with certain blood pressure medications. If you are seeing multiple physicians, they don’t necessarily share information.
“The only way to be sure your physicians know what other medications you’re taking is to tell them,” Eblen says. “That’s why it’s important to keep a list of all your current medications and take it with you to every appointment, and fill all of your prescriptions at one pharmacy.”
Your pharmacist can be a great tool to help keep you safe.
Lake Regional Pharmacy will host a medication review 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at the Lake Ozark location. To schedule an appointment, call 573-964-6200. For more information about Lake Regional Pharmacy, visit lakeregional.com/Pharmacy.
Ask these five questions
Many people are rushed when they pick up their prescription and don’t ask the questions they should, or don’t know what to ask. The following five questions are a good place to start.
1. What time of day should I take this medicine?
2. Do I need to take it with food or water, or on an empty stomach?
3. What should I do if I miss a dose?
4. If I start feeling better, can I stop taking it?
5. What do I do with this medicine if it expires before I use it all?
Jennifer Bethurem is the Director of Public Relations, Lake Regional Health System. Article written for the January/February issue of Lake Lifestyles magazine