Medications which by themselves are beneficial to the health can, when combined with others, be potentially harmful. This is a problem faced by anyone taking multiple medications - studies show that if a person is taking 8 medications, there will likely be one negative drug interaction. In other words, one medication may have a negative impact on the effectiveness of other drugs and how the body responds to them.

How To Prevent Drug Interactions Among The Elderly
  • The occurrence of drug interaction depends on a number of factors including:
  • The metabolism (including liver and kidney function) and genetic factors
  • Other medical conditions that may exist
  • Diet and lifestyle
  • Age
  • The number and quantity of medications being taken
  • To avoid possible drug interaction, the consequences of which could potentially be serious, keep the following points in mind:

Be honest with your doctor: Do not try to conceal the fact that you are taking other medications. Be open about what you are consuming, why, for how long and in what quantity. This will enable the doctor to keep possible drug interactions in mind when prescribing medications.

The doctor knows best: Stick to the medication prescribed. Do not change the dosage or switch to something else just because you feel what you are taking is not helping you or if there are unwanted side effects. If you feel your medication should be changed, talk to your doctor about it and follow his advice, even if it is not to your liking.

Learn about the drugs you are taking: Even non-prescription over the counter medications and herbal remedies, which are commonly consumed, can affect the way other medications work. So too can habits like alcohol consumption and smoking. Follow the instruction given on the medication packet or bottle. Ask the doctor for clarifications on anything you are not clear about. In case you are being treated by more than one doctor, ensure that each one knows about the other treatments you are receiving and the medications being taken. This will enable them to prescribe medications which will not adversely affect one another.

Follow up with your doctor: After completing the course of medication prescribed, ask your doctor about the next step. The drugs and supplements may need to be changed, if not stopped. Or they may have to be continued for some more time.

If a drug is not available: If a drug is difficult to obtain or too expensive, ask the doctor for alternatives. There may be other more easily available drugs you could take or lower priced alternatives. Do not try alternative medications without the doctor's approval.

Article by Mr. Ajith, Clinical Pharmacist,
Kauvery Hospital, Chennai


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