When it comes to drug interactions , education and communication are most essential. While taking multiple drugs, drug interactions can be intimidating. You need not be afraid of taking your medication because of the possible drug interactions.
You can learn about these interactions to prevent them from causing any harmful effects. Most drug interactions are generally not serious, but few can result in fatal consequences. Health professionals and pharmacists are well trained to predict these interactions.
You can also use online tools to check these issues. It’s hard to keep track of how and when to take your prescribed medications. This article helps to understand the risk associated with taking multiple drugs together. We will also discuss a few tips that help keep track of your medicines and how to take them safely.
Sometimes you are advised to take multiple medications because of complex health conditions. For example, if you are diagnosed with diabetes and recommended taking metformin and if you are also taking H2 receptor blockers or antimicrobials simultaneously, it can cause serious side effects. It is essential to be aware of all the medicine you take to avoid potential drug interactions.
Drugs can interact with other drugs, foods, and your health conditions. This can make your drugs less effective, cause side effects, and sometimes can trigger a drug’s action. Drug-drug interactions can occur when you take two or more drugs that react with each other. These interactions will lead to unexpected side effects. For instance, mixing a sedative drug with an allergy drug can slow down your cognitive reactions; hence driving a car or operating machines will become difficult. Understanding these drug-drug interactions can help you to avoid the risk associated with them.
Usage of multiple drugs is called Polypharmacy . It is causing adverse effects in thousands of elderly populations. A study revealed that one-third of the population in Denmark is exposed to polypharmacy; 6% of them were exposed to potential drug interaction during one year.
Another study says potential factors linked with increased risk of multiple drug interactions were age, a high number of concurrently used drugs, and a high number of prescribers. A primary reason for drug interaction is frequent changes in doctors and pharmacies. When you are exposed to multiple medications, it increases the risk of drug interactions .
●People with chronic diseases – During any chronic disease you will be advised to take multiple medications. The more medicines you take, the higher the risk of drug interactions and side effects.
●Consulting more than one health care provider – If you consult more than one doctor, discuss with your doctor the medications you are already taking.
●Older adults – In old age, the body takes more time to process the medicines. Due to this reason medicine stays for a longer time and leads to dangerous levels causing toxicity.
Adverse effects (ADE) are commonly seen in long-term usage of medicines; this may harm your organs. ADEs are a common reason for 5% to 28% of medical emergencies in the older population. The most common drugs associated with adverse effects are cardiovascular drugs, anticoagulants, hypoglycemics, diuretics, and NSAIDs. It is commonly observed in older adults due to reduced metabolic functionality and decreased drug clearance. This increases with the number of drugs being used.
The use of multiple medications increases the risk of potential drug-drug interactions. Few medications when taken together change the expected response. And some drugs when given alone are more effective than combining with other drugs. Cardiovascular drugs are commonly involved in drug-drug interactions. Common side effects observed due to drug-drug interactions are neuropsychological problems, acute renal failure, and hypotension. Anti-inflammatory drugs may increase your blood pressure and kidney problems.
When you take additional drugs to treat the side effects caused by your prescription drugs is known as prescribing cascades . Sometimes doctors may interpret it wrongly as a new medical condition.
Polypharmacy has been linked as a risk factor for hip fracture in older adults. A study conducted in Taiwan suggests that the risk of hip fracture in old people increases with the number of medicines taken, this was seen more in women. Aging and polypharmacy together increase the risk of hip fracture.
When you are at the hospital or any medical institution; a common source of medical errors might put you into polypharmacy. Many times, patients start new medicines or stop previous ones; this might lead to a lot of medicinal errors and negative outcomes. Hence, it’s very important to keep track of medicines and doses to prevent drug-drug interactions Drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination are linked with aging. Physiologic changes will occur with aging that results in multiple alterations in the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drugs. These changes increase adverse drug reactions.
Here are some simple tips to manage polypharmacy ;
●Keep your list of prescribed medications updated and accurate.
●When you visit your doctor, inform them of the medicines you are taking. Tell your healthcare provider about the supplements, herbal products, or over-the-counter medications you are taking.
●Let your doctor review the ongoing prescription to avoid polypharmacy.
●Be aware of the side effects of each medicine, always read the label.
●Try to avoid taking medicines unnecessarily.
●Do not discontinue any medicines without consulting your doctor.
●Avoid frequent changes of your doctor or pharmacy.
●Do not take medicines without your doctor’s consent.
●Follow the doses as per your doctor’s prescription.
●Taking any prescribed medication should not be stopped suddenly.
Taking multiple drugs can increase the risk of drug interactions leading to various side effects. Learning about your medications and supplements and their side effects can help you avoid such unpleasant experiences. Always discuss with your healthcare provider about your medications and any side effects, you are experiencing. You can use online tools, like smartphone apps to save the records of your medications. Keep reminders for taking them on time and with the help of these tools you can avoid side effects of drug interactions.
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