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How to prevent drug interactions

Many people, especially among the elderly, take more than two or three prescription pills per day. Others with certain disease states like high blood pressure, epilepsy and depression are also at risk for dangerous drug interactions.

Here are some guidelines to making sure you are not in danger of a serious drug interaction:

1. Talk to your pharmacist

Your pharmacist is an educated and trained resource for you to discuss any and all drug interactions from over-the-counter medications to prescriptions. Be sure to talk to your pharmacist every time you begin taking a new medication.

2. Research for yourself

Using online tools such as the Drug Interaction Checker to research medications can be helpful. Though nothing can replace talking to your doctor or pharmacist, this online tool is a quick way to check most drug interactions.

3. Use one pharmacy

When you keep all of your prescriptions at one pharmacy you have the benefit of your past and current medications being in one central database, and the pharmacists who work there get to know you. While you’re there, you can discuss your medications and any OTC medications that may have a negative impact on the prescriptions that you are already taking.

4. Be aware of food and beverage interactions

Your pharmacist includes stickers on your prescriptions that, if needed, contain warnings such as taking medications with or without milk, or not drinking alcohol while taking medication. These warnings should be taken seriously. For example, grapefruit juice can cause increase medicine in your blood possibly making the drug toxic. Calcium can bind with some drugs and cause them to not absorb. Follow the instructions and talk to your pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns.

5. Don’t take medications prescribed for someone else

When your doctor writes you a prescription, the dosage is specific for you and your weight, age and medical condition. If you take an antibiotic without a prescription it may not be the right antibiotic for your infection which could make it worse. And, when you don’t finish taking your medications it could make the condition worse.

6. Follow dosing instructions

Be sure to follow the exact instruction provided by your doctor and pharmacist when taking medications. Your pharmacist will label your prescription with directions on when to take the medication as well as what you what you should take it with and for how long. Stickers will also be used on the bottles when there are drug interaction warnings.

7. Communicate with your healthcare providers about all your health conditions

Patients suffering from high blood pressure or glaucoma are at a greater risk of drugs having dangerous consequences. Some OTC medicines like Sudafed can increase blood pressure even if the patient takes a prescription for high blood pressure. Other OTC medications such as antihistamines can cause further complications with Glaucoma.

8. Do not order from online pharmacies

You may think you’re saving money by buying medications via the internet, but it can be dangerous. According to the FDA, “the safety and effectiveness of imported drugs have not been reviewed by the FDA, and their identity and potency can’t be assured.” You may not get the medication that you intended to order, it may not be the right strength and it could even be expired.

The key ingredient in staying healthy is to trust your local pharmacist for all of your prescription and OTC questions and needs.


New Niacin Study Reveals Alarming Results

Niacin has long been hailed as a cholesterol treatment by boosting HDL (the good cholesterol) levels and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). It’s often prescribed in conjunction with familiar statin medications such as Lipitor and Crestor. Niacin (vitamin B3) is also available over-the-counter in smaller doses.

However, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that taking Niacin does not reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes. What’s more, taking large doses of niacin has been shown to cause patients to experience liver problems, infections and bleeding in the brain, stomach and intestines.

We’ve spent some time discussing diabetes on our blog, and this study of 25,000 people also links niacin with the development of diabetes in people who were not diabetic at the beginning, of the study. The study also resulted in more diabetic participants requiring hospitalization.

These results are alarming, but before you stop taking any medications, talk to your doctor about whether the benefits of niacin outweigh the risks for you.

Note: Niacin is naturally present in many foods such as leafy green vegetables, fish, meat, poultry and eggs, so don’t be alarmed by this study… it is only concerning large doses of niacin taken as a supplement.

New drugs approved by FDA

Good news for women suffering from hot flashes and for people with diabetes — two new drugs have been approved by the FDA.

Duavee is for menopausal women with moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms or “hot flashes” and the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Vasomotor symptoms are thought to occur when estrogen levels fall and affect the body’s temperature regulating mechanism. About 50% of postmenopausal women experience moderate to severe hot flashes. According to a 2013 study, vasomotor symptoms interfere with family life, work productivity and sleep. Sleep disruption can cause fatigue and depression which also impacts family and work life. Duavee should only be used for the shortest period of time consistent with treatment goals and the lowest risk for the patient.

Afrezza is a new inhalation powder for diabetics to use at mealtime. While not a substitute for long-acting insulin, it will allow both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics to have an option at mealtime to control blood sugar levels without a needle. The inhalant should be taken at the beginning of each meal or within 20 minutes of starting a meal. Peak insulin levels are achieved within 12-15 minutes of taking the drug compared to 45-90 minutes with injected, rapid-acting insulin. Afrezza should not be used in patients with chronic lung diseases such as asthma and smoker’s cough.

As with any medication, there are side effects. Discuss these medications with your doctor to see if they are right for you.

Have you had the Cyber Talk with your teens?

Summer is in full swing. School is out, we’ve celebrated the 4th and maybe already taken our family vacation. We go back to work and the kids are at home alone. So, do you know what your teens are up to when you’re not with them?

Keeping our kids safe online should be our priority. With virtually unlimited access information 24-hours a day, it’s difficult to monitor every activity. Here are some tips to help you stay informed and keep your kids safe:

Learn the technology. We all joke that our kids know more about computers and devices than we do, but that shouldn’t be the case. Learn all that you can about their devices.

Know the passwords. Have your child give you all of the passwords to their devices and accounts. This goes for their phone, email, facebook, twitter, snapchat, gaming console, etc… every one of them.

Set some ground rules. Talk to your kids about what’s appropriate online behavior and what sites they can visit and who they are allowed to talk to online. If your kids don’t know the “friend” in-person, then they shouldn’t be chatting with them online.

Know where they are. Only 15% of parents use the location service on their child’s phone.

Important statistics learned from McAfee’s 2014 Teens and Screens study:

  • 59% engage with strangers online
  • 1 our of 12 meet the online stranger
  • 33% say they feel more accepted online than in real life
  • 50% post their email address
  • 30% post their phone number
  • 14% post their home address%
  • 45% would change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching
  • 53% close or minimize their browsers when their parents walk in the room
  • 50% clear their browser history
  • 87% have witnessed cyberbullying
  • 26% have been the victim of cyberbullying
  • 24% don’t know what to do in the event of cyberbullying

These numbers suggest that our kids really don’t fully understand the importance of staying safe online. They feel a sense of security since they are at home, but they are far from it. If you haven’t had the online safety talk with your kids, yet, take some time and discuss it today and get their passwords while your at it.