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Steps to take to avoid drug interactions

With so many names for medications on the market, following the doctor’s orders can be challenging. If your doctor tells you not to take any NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) with your current medication, you might think that taking Motrin is fine. However, Motrin is an NSAID and so is Celebrex and Advil. Taking any of these along with a prescription can cause an unexpected interaction. These interactions can be harmful so it is important to check for drug interactions by being an educated consumer. To begin, here is the basic information about the three main types of drug interactions.

Drug-drug interactions
This type of interaction occurs when two or more prescription or over-the-counter drugs react with each other making one or both drugs perform in different ways. Sometimes the outcome is more intense than desired. For example, both aspirin and Coumadin are blood thinners used to prevent blood clots from forming to prevent heart attacks. However, taking both of these medications can result in excessive bleeding.

In other cases, one medication can keep the other medication from having the proper effect. For example, taking some antacids can prevent heart medications from being absorbed into the bloodstream. This keeps the heart medicine from being as effective as it could be.

Medications can also interact to have an unexpected effect. One example of this is taking a sedative to help you sleep along with an allergy medication. These two drugs taken together can slow your reaction time and make it dangerous to operate a machine or drive a car.

Drug-food/beverage interactions
Certain foods and beverages can affect the effectiveness of medications. The most common interaction is with alcohol. If you are taking a prescription pain reliever and also are drinking alcohol, you are putting yourself in danger. Both the pain reliever and alcohol slow breathing. Taking too much of these at the same time can possibly stop your breathing.

Some foods reduce a medication’s effectiveness. Grapefruit juice can prevent the body from breaking down medicines, which means the medicine stays in your body longer than expected. Some vegetables rich in vitamin K like kale and spinach can affect the effectiveness of blood thinning medications like Warfarin. High calcium foods like cheese and yogurt can reduce the body’s ability to absorb antibiotics like tetracycline. Some of these food interactions can be avoided simply by taking medications one or two hours after eating.

Drug-condition interactions
If you have an existing condition like high blood pressure or diabetes, it is important to be aware of how certain medications can affect those conditions. For example, if you have high blood pressure, deciding to use a nasal decongestant, which most people can safely use, can raise your blood pressure to a dangerous level.

Steps to avoid drug interactions
One of the first steps to avoiding drug interactions is to always let your doctor know all medications, supplements and herbal remedies you are currently taking or have taken in the last two weeks. This will help your doctor to spot potential interactions.

It is also important to always read the instructions that come with your prescription or over-the-counter medication. Look for the active ingredients so you know what you are taking. Review the warnings for restrictions to be followed while taking the medication. Follow the directions for the size of the dose, the frequency and time of day. Finally, medication directions do change as new research is completed. Always check for the information each time you start a medication to identify changes.

AARP.org and other online websites have tools that are helpful in identifying potential interaction issues. Enter your prescriptions, over the counter medications, supplements and vitamins and the website can alert you to possible interactions.

When you need help
After surgery or a medical event, it can be challenging to sort out all of the important medication instructions while also dealing with wound care, pain and mobility issues. For many people, the best plan of action is to recover in a short-term care facility where there is round the clock help to monitor your medications and prescriptions and meet your other recovery needs.

Whitehall of Deerfield is one of the North Shore’s premier options for rehabilitation. Whitehall of Deerfield has consistently received Medicare’s highest rating in Medicare’s five-star rating system of nursing and rehabilitation centers, as well as receiving U.S. News & World Report’s highest “Top Performing” rating, making it one of the best options for short-term care in the area.

When it comes to care, few can match Whitehall of Deerfield’s full range of therapies targeted to meet each guest’s individual needs. A clinical nurse liaison completes an assessment to discover areas that need attention. Then physical, occupational and speech therapists work one-on-one with guests seven days a week. There is also a respiratory therapist on staff who also works with guests one-on-one and helps manage care to avoid re-hospitalization.

State-of-the-art rehabilitation gyms provide all the equipment needed to reach your highest level of independence and functioning. Discharge planners help the transition back to your home go smoothly and quickly. Care is consistent, compassionate and skilled at every level.

Extra attention is given to meals at Whitehall of Deerfield. Guests can choose to dine in their room or join others in beautiful dining rooms that feature full-length windows and soothing views of a classic fountain. The on-staff registered dietitian ensures that each dish is as nutritious as it is appetizing. There are also delicious extras like gourmet coffees, ice cream refreshments and fresh baked goods offered throughout the day.

Whitehall of Deerfield is filled with luxurious features from valet parking for visitors to a Wellness Spa for guests. To see all that is offered, arrange a tour by calling 847-945-4600. For more information, visit whitehallofdeerfield.com.

300 Waukegan Road Deerfield, IL 60015 | 847.945.4600