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Medication Management

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Avoiding Drug Interactions

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Depending on the condition being treated, your physician may suggest not taking particular OTC medications. For example, epileptics need to be careful when taking diphenhydramine (e.g. Benadryl) or cold medicines containing phenylpropanolamine (PPA) since these drugs are known to increase seizure frequency. Make sure that the physician treating you is aware of all health conditions which may affect the medications you need to take.

Herbal Remedies:

While there are some individuals who have found tremendous health benefits from taking herbal remedies, caregivers should still be concerned when considering their use. Just because an herbal remedy touts that it is all-natural does not mean that it is safe. Some of these herbal products can cause dangerous interactions with medications that you may be taking. Also, donít take an herbal remedy for the same condition for which medication has already been prescribed unless approved by the doctor. Write down any herbal remedies along with other medications that you are taking to be certain that the doctor has an accurate picture of everything that is taken at home.

Some preparations can contain high amounts of metals such as lead and mercury due to processing. In addition, contaminants such as pesticides may also be found in some of these remedies. Some herbal remedies have been found to contain illicit prescription medicines and were not labeled as such.

Herbal remedies often make claims on the packaging that have not been safely evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Without standardized testing, some of these remedies can be a source of trouble for the patient since there is little data to back up these claims. Since many companies market these remedies as food supplements, they arenít as stringently monitored by the FDA. In addition, manufacturers arenít held to the same accountability standards as pharmaceutical companies.

If you feel it necessary to take an herbal remedy, consult your loved oneís physician first. Exercise caution when reading labels. Some remedies have been found to contain so little of an herb that it is nothing more than a placebo. For example, one research study found that more than 60 percent of ginseng products contained so little ginseng that they were essentially inactive.

Food-Drug Interactions:

Certain foods can also affect medications, usually in ways that the medicine is absorbed throughout the body. Some of these foods or additives to foods include caffeine and vitamin K (found in broccoli). There are also medications that interact negatively with grapefruit juice which reduces or eliminates the effect of the medicine. There are many other foods to consider and the pharmacy may have this information for specific medications.

  • Food can slow the absorption of some medicines throughout the body.

  • Meals high in carbohydrates can adversely affect the absorption rate of some medications.

  • Some medications need food to help it absorb for the bodyís use.


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