Are prescription drug interactions a problem for your loved one? About 90% of seniors take at least one prescription drug every day; half take 4 or more medications daily. All too often, they are given new prescription drugs without thoroughly assessing their other medications.
Dangerous interactions and side effects — even disastrous consequences — can result. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly two-thirds of the trips to hospital emergency rooms were made by adults aged 65 or older because of adverse reactions to prescription drugs and other medication problems.
Here are two excellent resources for checking drug interactions. Both include interactions between prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements (both herbal and mineral) as well as various foods and alcoholic beverages. And, both allow you to print out the results to discuss with the doctor. Be sure to include all of the medications your loved one takes (prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, antacids, herbal remedies, nutritional supplements — even daily multi-vitamins).
Important Note: Discuss all interactions you find here with your doctor before you stop taking any prescription unless the interaction is severe. Not everyone experiences the same interactions or side effects. And, the benefits you receive may outweigh potential disadvantages.
Often, interactions between drugs is not the reason an older adult has medication problems. Instead, it may very well be because of adverse side effects of a newly prescribed medication. We recommend using the WebMD Drugs & Medications database to check out potential side effects.
This section of WebMD’s website is an easy-to-use database of brand name and generic medications. With more than 10,000 entries, the information about each drug includes how to take it, what to do if you miss a dose, side effects, potential interaction with foods and other medications, and precautions for children and seniors.
Once again, don’t stop taking a prescription until you talk with a doctor unless your reaction to the drug is severe. The side effects may only be temporary while your body adjusts to the new drug.