Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Nancy Ludin
CEO Jewish Pavilion 

Insights from The Orlando Senior Help Desk: Drug Interactions


Most seniors take multiple medications prescribed by many doctors. This is one reason why caregivers need to be aware of the potential for drug interactions. Interactions occur when medications don’t work in tandem with one another. The drugs meant to help you can work adversely to affect your loved one’s health.

Prescription and over the counter medications should also be considered when looking at drug interactions. Herbal remedies and food interactions can be a source of concern as well.

Medication-Medication Interactions:

Drug interactions are often a concern for people since as they age, they tend to take even more medications. What most people don’t realize, however, is that common over the counter medications can cause serious drug interactions too. For this reason alone, it is critical to take a complete list of medications to both your doctor and your pharmacist.

Pharmacists train in medication and specialize in learning about interactions. It is best to check with both of them just to be sure that nothing can adversely affect your loved one’s health. Experts use this explanation as a basis for suggesting that individuals use the same pharmacy each time they have a prescription filled. The pharmacy keeps records and flags the account for possible drug interactions.

Almost all pharmacies provide printed leaflets with each prescription. Read these leaflets carefully and pay close attention to the side effects and possible drug interactions. If you need to ask a question about the medication, it helps to take the leaflet to the doctor with you.

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, don’t 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.

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 whiles some medications need food to help with absorbtion.

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

Alcohol-Drug Interactions:

Although not technically a food, alcohol is often grouped with foods when considering interactions with medications. The elderly are especially at risk for this alcohol interactions, since alcohol abuse is significant in the elderly population.

Alcohol intensifies the effect of some medications, such as sedatives or pain medicines. And cause additional dizziness, drowsiness etc. Alcohol can exhaust enzymes needed to metabolize the medication, thereby prolonging the absorption of the medication and risking more side effects in the body. It can also have the opposite effect by prolonging the metabolizing of medication in the bloodstream, rendering the drug less effective.

Drug Reactions:

Side effects are possible with any medication on the market since there are many different types of people and diseases. It is important to minimize side effects while treating the underlying condition.

Keep a diary at home of any reaction that seems unusual. Some of the items to include in the diary include:

When was the medication given?

How long did it take to notice the reaction?

What is the nature of the reaction?

Does it seem to get better or worse as time goes by?

Is this a known side effect of the medication?

How much discomfort does it cause in the patient?

Your physician may suggest other areas to observe.

By keeping a comprehensive diary of reactions, you can determine whether or not this is a true drug reaction or a symptom of the underlying disease, or even a new one that may be developing. Your doctor will want to see the diary, at least in part, when trying to figure out how best to treat the reaction.

As caregivers, giving medication can be one of the scariest responsibilities. Being diligent and staying informed is perhaps one of the best remedies. Be certain that you maintain open lines of communication with both the doctor and the pharmacy in order to better provide care for your loved one.

While most seniors face major adjustments when transitioning to an elder-care community, Jewish seniors face additional challenges. Not only do they lose their homes, and many of their friends, but they also lose ties to their cultural heritage. This is where the Jewish Pavilion, a 501c3 non-profit, steps in. The Pavilion serves as a resource that provides room visits, festive holiday celebrations, and more to 450 Jewish residents in fifty facilities for seniors. The Jewish Pavilion promotes inclusion, and thousands of seniors of all faiths are welcomed into our programs. http://www.JewishPavilion.org

The Orlando Senior Help Desk at the Jewish Pavilion (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues. http://www.OrlandoSeniorHelpDesk.org.


Reader Comments(0)


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2023

Rendered 06/08/2023 20:05