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Drug Interactions: The Dangers of Mixing up Medicines

There are people with medical conditions who take more than one medicine at a time. Some people see more than one doctor for different reasons. Still, even with the subtantiated proof on the efficacy of Western medicine, many still choose to take herbal supplements for health maintenance.

Health is wealth. This is why it is important for people take better care of their physical, emotional and psychological well-being.

Nowadays, there are more ways than ever to learn about what is good for one's health. The mass media, as well as the internet, provide relevant information about health issues such as drug interactions.

Types of Drug Interactions

There are people with medical conditions who take more than one medicine at a time. Some people see more than one doctor for different reasons. Still, even with the subtantiated proof on the efficacy of Western medicine, many still choose to take herbal supplements for health maintenance. It is to the patient's advantage as well as the doctors to be aware of all the medicines and supplements that are being taken in order to avoid possible negative effects of drug interactions. Below are 3 classifications of drug interactions.

1. Drug-Drug Interactions - is experienced when two or more medicines react with each other resulting in unwelcomed side effects. Taking a sedative or sleeping pill together with anti- allergy drug or antihistamine can slow down one's reactions making car driving or operating machineries too risky.

2. Drug-Food/Beverage Interactions - occur when drugs react with foods or beverages. For example, mixing alcohol with some drugs may cause a feeling of fatigue or slow your reactions.

3. Drug-Condition Interactions - may happen when an existing medical condition makes certain drugs potentially harmful. An example of this is when someone has high blood pressure, there could be an experience of adverse reaction if you take a nasal decongestant.

Effects of Drug Interactions

The effects of drug interactions may be as mild as making your drug less effective, or it can cause unexpected side effects such as allergies, palpitations or dizziness. It can also increase the action of a particular drug which can be detrimental to the health condition of the patient. As safety precaution, it is important that one should read the label of non-prescription or prescription drugs and should learn about drug interactions which may be critical to your health and can reduce the risk of potentially harmful interactions and its side effects.

Herbal Remedies

There is a growing number of alternative therapies such as herbal products and other supplements that are currently enjoying widespread acceptance in the United States. However, users seldom inform their physicians about it.

People should be aware that these herbal products are not tested with the scientific rigor required of conventional drugs, and they are not subject to the approval process of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hence, herbal products are not supposed to be marketed for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. However, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 enables these products to include in the labels statements about their alleged effects on the human body such as alleviation of fatigue or how they can help in promoting the general well-being of a person such as mood enhancement.

These declared effects of herbal products have been analyzed and are proven to resemble claims of clinical efficacy for various diseases and conditions. Morever, unlike conventional drugs, herbal products are not being regulated for purity and potency. This is the reason why some of the adverse effects and drug interactions reported for herbal products are attributed to such impurities such as allergens, pollen and spores. In addition, the more potent the herbal product is, the greater the possibility of its adverse effects.

Over-The-Counter Drugs

Over-the-counter medicine labels usually contain about ingredients, uses, warnings and directions that is important to read and understand including vital information about possible drug interactions. In addition, drug labels may change as recent developments about the drug are discovered. That is why it is of great significance that labels are read every time you use a drug.

Safety Precautions

Consult with your health care professionals about the medicines and supplements you take. Everytime your physician would give a new prescription, be sure to discuss all OTC and prescription drugs, dietary supplements, vitamins, botanicals, minerals and herbal supplements you take icluding the food that you eat. See to it that whenever you buy medicines from the pharmacy, the package insert for each prescription drug is included for it will provide you with more information about potential drug interactions.

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