Common Drug Interactions You Should Know

We take medications with the intention to suppress or even rid the body completely of an illness or disease. What then happens when these medications begin to interact with other substances within the body system? Oftentimes, this can decrease the effectiveness of such drugs resulting in unpredictable and sometimes, dangerous consequences. Drug interactions are risky and can cause adverse effects to the body system. In this article, we will look at some common drug interactions, their risks, and how to avoid them.

  • Drug-Drug Interactions

Drug-drug interactions often occur when two or more drugs interact with one another within the bloodstream. This can lead to altered drug levels in the body which may result in either increased or decreased therapeutic effects of such drugs, increased side effects, and even life-threatening reactions. For instance, taking an antidepressant with a sedative can cause excessive drowsiness and respiratory depression. To avoid such interactions,  it is important to let your doctor know all the medications you are presently taking whether prescription drugs, herbal supplements, and even over-the-counter medications. This will enable your doctor to check for potential interactions and adjust your medications if necessary. You can also decide to use an online drug research platform to check for potential drug reactions for your drug, especially if you do not have direct and immediate access to your healthcare provider.

  • Drug-Food Interactions

Drug-food interactions occur when drugs come in contact with certain foods or beverages in the body. For instance, taking grapefruit juice with certain medications can cause muscle damage. When you also take certain antibiotics with dairy products, you are at risk of altering the drug absorption, metabolism, and effectiveness. This might even lead to antibiotic resistance. When you have just purchased a medication, it is always important to read medication labels and package inserts carefully, for any specific instructions on taking such medication with, or without food. You could also ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for guidance and clarification if you have concerns about taking medication with foods or beverages.

  • Drug-Supplement Interactions

The essence of taking supplements is to provide additional nutrients that may be lacking in a person’s diet. This may include vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and other dietary substances. However, these supplements can also interact with other medications and alter the effect of such drugs thereby increasing the risk of side effects. Taking a blood thinning medication with a high dose of vitamin E for example can increase the risk of bleeding. Also, it is risky to take multivitamins and iron supplements with heart medications such as digoxin, as this can lead to toxic levels of iron in the body. To avoid such complications, inform your healthcare provider of such dietary supplements so that they can check for potential interactions and adjust medications if need be.

  • Drug-Condition Interactions 

These are also known as drug-disease interactions. They are interactions that occur when certain medications come in contact with existing medical conditions or diseases in the body. For instance, if you have a kidney disease and take diuretic medications, it can worsen the functionality of the kidney or even shut it down completely. You can however avoid such complications by providing your doctor with your complete medical history if they are not aware. You should also inform them of any past or current medical condition if any, so that they can know the appropriate medication to prescribe when you are ill.

  • Drug-Alcohol Interactions

Alcoholic drinks contain some ingredients that can interact with medications when used together. For instance, taking a sedative with an alcoholic drink can cause excessive drowsiness, skin flushing, nausea, headache and even chest palpitations. It is always a good idea to limit alcohol consumption or even avoid it completely while taking medications. If however, you cannot abstain from alcohol completely, follow the instructions provided by your doctor or pharmacist regarding alcohol use while on medication.


Good health is your first priority, so it is necessary to make sure that all loose ends are tied when ensuring good health. This is why you should always communicate openly about your medical status with your healthcare provider or doctor, as this will help them to better prescribe medications in order to avoid the possibility of future drug interactions. 

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