This article explains what drug interactions are, how they can affect your health, and what are three common examples of drug interactions.
Drug interactions are a serious health risk that can affect anyone who takes medications, supplements, or herbal products.
Some interactions can cause unwanted side effects, reduce the effectiveness of your treatment, or increase the toxicity of your drugs.
That’s why it’s essential to check for potential drug interactions before you start or change any medication.
In this blog post, we will discuss three common drug interactions that can harm your health and how to avoid them.
We will also show you how a drug interactions checker can help you identify and prevent drug interactions easily and quickly.
1. Calcium and Iron Bind Other Drugs in the Gut
Calcium and iron are minerals that are essential for your health, but they can also interfere with the absorption of some medications.
Calcium and iron can bind to other drugs in the gut, creating a poorly soluble complex that is less readily absorbed by the body.
This can result in lower blood levels of the medication and reduced effectiveness.
Some examples of medications that can be affected by calcium and iron are:
Tetracycline antibiotics (e.g., doxycycline)
These antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Calcium and iron can decrease the absorption of tetracyclines by up to 90%, significantly reducing their antibacterial effects.
Thyroid hormones (e.g., levothyroxine)
These hormones are used to treat hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones.
Calcium and iron can decrease the absorption of thyroid hormones by up to 40%, leading to inadequate treatment.
Bisphosphonates (e.g., alendronate)
These drugs are used to treat osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become weak and brittle.
Calcium and iron can decrease the absorption of bisphosphonates by up to 60%, reducing their bone-protective effects.
How to avoid this interaction: To prevent this interaction, you should take these medications at least two hours before or four hours after taking calcium or iron supplements or foods that contain them (e.g., dairy products, fortified cereals, spinach).
2. Aspirin and NSAIDs Increase the Risk of Bleeding
Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to relieve pain, inflammation, and fever.
However, they can also increase the risk of bleeding by inhibiting the function of platelets, which are blood cells that help with clotting.
This can lead to bleeding complications such as bruising, nosebleeds, gastrointestinal ulcers, and hemorrhagic stroke.
Some examples of NSAIDs are:
- Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin)
- Naproxen (e.g., Aleve, Naprosyn)
- Diclofenac (e.g., Voltaren)
- Celecoxib (e.g., Celebrex)
How to avoid this interaction: To prevent this interaction, you should avoid taking aspirin and NSAIDs together unless instructed by your doctor.
If you need to take both medications for different reasons (e.g., aspirin for heart protection and ibuprofen for arthritis), you should take them at different times of the day and with food or antacids to reduce stomach irritation.
You should also monitor for signs of bleeding such as dark stools, blood in urine or vomit, or unusual bruising.
3. Chlorpromazine and Haloperidol Cause a Serious Irregular Heart Rhythm
Chlorpromazine and haloperidol are antipsychotic drugs that are used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions.
However, they can also cause a serious irregular heart rhythm called torsades de pointes by prolonging the QT interval on an electrocardiogram (ECG).
This can lead to fainting, seizures, cardiac arrest, and death.
Some examples of other medications that can prolong the QT interval are:
- Antidepressants (e.g., citalopram, escitalopram)
- Antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin, clarithromycin)
- Antifungals (e.g., fluconazole, itraconazole)
- Antiarrhythmics (e.g., amiodarone, sotalol)
How to avoid this interaction?: To prevent this interaction, you should avoid taking chlorpromazine or haloperidol with other medications that prolong the QT interval unless instructed by your doctor.
You should also have regular ECG monitoring to check your heart rhythm and report any symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness, or fainting.