According to the
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, more than 34
percent of seniors take medications prescribed by more than
one physician and 72 percent take medications that were
prescribed more than six months ago. This is one reason why
caregivers need to be aware of the potential for drug
interactions. There may be times when multiple medications
are needed to manage symptoms or provide relief in some
form. Interactions occur when medications don’t work in
tandem with one another and instead one of the drugs or both
of them together adversely affect your loved one’s health.
Prescription and over the
counter (OTC) medications should both be considered when looking at
drug interactions. Herbal remedies and food interactions can be a
source of concern as well. Finally, drug reactions are just as
critical as interactions since they can cause problems for the
patient as well.
Drug interactions are often a
concern for people since as they age, they tend to take even more
medications. What most people don’t realize, however, is that common
OTC medications can cause serious drug interactions as well. For
this reason alone, it is critical to take a complete list of
medications to both your doctor and your pharmacist.
Some patients may think it is
“overkill” to provide the list to both the doctor and the
pharmacist. After all, the doctor prescribes medication; he should
know the interactions to look for, right? Well, not always.
Pharmacists train in medication
and specialize in learning about interactions. It is best to check
with both of them just to be sure that nothing can adversely affect
your loved one’s health. Experts use this explanation as a basis for
suggesting that individuals use the same pharmacy each time they
have a prescription filled. The pharmacy keeps records and flags the
account for possible drug interactions. Bring a record of any OTC
medications that your loved one takes as well so that your
pharmacist can have a complete record of medications given at home.
Almost all pharmacies provide
printed leaflets with each prescription. Read these leaflets
carefully and pay close attention to the side effects and possible
drug interactions. If you need to ask a question about the
medication, it helps to take the leaflet to the doctor with you. You
can also call the pharmacist with your question to be sure that the
medicine your loved one was prescribed is one that can be safely
taken without causing problems with other medications.
The Ohio Department on Aging
provides an information sheet with helpful information about drug
interactions and reactions. Some of the interactions they list
One medication can
increase or decrease the effectiveness of another.
Taking two medications
can produce one interaction that can be dangerous for the patient.
Taking two medications
that are similar can produce one reaction that is greater than one
would normally expect.