How Taking Certain Medications Affect Your Body

General Health

How Taking Certain Medications Affect Your Body

Proper medicine intake ensures that you get the most out of your trusted healthcare products.


Taking your usual pills has become part of your routine, and it’s easy to forget the basics when it comes to proper medicine intake. Here’s a primer on how certain drug interactions affect your body.

Modern science and technology have now made it possible for people to have better access to all kinds of medications. You are now able to stock up on your trusted healthcare products like your vitamins and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines at home, so you are always prepared for any illness. Since taking your usual pills has become part of your routine, it’s easy to forget the basics when it comes to proper medicine intake. Here’s a primer on how certain drug interactions affect your body.

What is a drug interaction and how does it affect your body?

Drug interactions happen when you take different kinds of medications at the same time. Basic drug-drug interactions are categorized into two kinds, namely:

  • Pharmacodynamic – drug interactions that are related to the drug’s effect on the body.
  • Pharmacokinetic – drug interactions that are related to the body’s effect on the drug.

Most OTC medications are generally safe to take. Also, it is important to read the packaging or the product information leaflet (PIL) of your medicines before you take them to avoid any undesirable effects. According to the FDA you should take note of the “active ingredients” and the “purpose” section of the PIL, so you are aware of the possible side effects and how to properly administer the medication.

Educating yourself on the essential drug interactions of some of the most commonly-prescribed medications can help you avoid any adverse effects. Read more below to learn more.

Fever

Commonly prescribed medication: Paracetamol

Recommended dose: 1-2 500 mg tablets every 4-6 hours. Maximum of 8 tablets of 4,000 mg every 24 hours

Paracetamol contains an active ingredient called acetaminophen. Alcohol consumption should be avoided if you are currently taking medicines that contain paracetamol. It is also not advisable to take several medications that contain paracetamol all at once to avoid an overdose.

Body pains

Commonly prescribed medication: Ibuprofen

Recommended dose: For oral dosage, 400 mg every 4 hours or as prescribed by your doctor

Ibuprofen belongs to a group of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. Studies show that taking prescription strength NSAIDs with antihypertensive drugs may increase your blood pressure. As a general rule, you should always take this kind of medication with food to avoid an upset stomach.

Cough, colds, flu

Commonly prescribed medication: Antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants

Recommended dosage: As prescribed by your doctor

Down with the flu? It’s best to consult your doctor first before you take anything. Pills that contain antihistamines like cetirizine can cause drowsiness, so do not take them with alcoholic beverages. Remember to avoid driving or operating any heavy machinery during this period. Never self-medicate with antibiotics since the improper use of antibiotics may lead to antibiotic resistance. Keep in mind that the right treatment should address the root cause of your illness and not just your initial symptoms.

Diabetes

Commonly prescribed medication: Insulin, metformin

Recommended dosage: As prescribed by your doctor

One of the main causes of diabetes is insulin resistance, which usually begins when your body can’t process insulin well. In turn, you will need to take insulin as a form of maintenance to regulate your insulin levels. Consult your doctor first about insulin intake if you are on other medications like antidepressants, diuretics, and food supplements to prevent the occurrence of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

Meanwhile, the active ingredients of metformin combined with other medications that contain cimetidine (commonly used to treat ulcer) may result in a negative drug interaction. It is also recommended that you take metformin with your meals to prevent any gastrointestinal side effects.

Hypertension

Commonly prescribed medication: Diuretics, beta-blockers

Recommended dosage: As prescribed by your doctor

Diuretics (also called “water pills”) help get rid of excessive salt (sodium) in your body. Taking diuretics also decreases water from your blood that flows in your veins and arteries, hence reducing your blood pressure. As a result, you may experience lower sodium levels and increased urination while on diuretics.

Another common prescription for high blood pressure are beta-blockers, which are usually given when diuretics are not effective enough. In some cases, combination therapy is recommended for those with hypertension. But keep in mind that taking diuretics and beta-blockers at the same time is not recommended and may increase your risk of developing diabetes.

Lastly, you shouldn’t abruptly stop using beta-blockers since it can increase your chances of having a heart attack. Always consult your cardiologist first before starting and stopping medicine intake, most especially if you’ve been taking it for a long time.

Vitamins

Commonly prescribed medication: Multivitamins, zinc, ascorbic acid, food supplements

Recommended dosage: As prescribed by your doctor

Vitamins or food supplements are usually taken every day, sometimes even multiple times a day. So it’s essential that you disclose to your physician any kind of supplement that you are taking before he/she prescribes any type of medication.

For  example, antidiabetic medications are not supposed to be taken with supplements that contain ginger since this may result in a hypoglycemic episode. Another example are vitamins that contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C) may reduce the effect of other drugs like niacin (for high cholesterol) and other anticoagulants (blood thinners).

There is no absolute way to determine how a certain drug can affect your body. Although OTC medications are readily available, it is not wise to take them without the proper advice from your doctor or pharmacist. Always consider that drug interactions may occur if you take several medications at once, so it’s best to educate yourself by seeking guidance from health experts before taking any medication.

General disclaimer

Always consult your doctor before taking any medicine. Your doctor will be in the best position to give the appropriate medical advice. For suspected undesirable drug reaction, seek medical attention immediately and report to the FDA at www.fda.gov.ph and UNILAB, Inc. at 8-UNILAB-1 or productsafety@unilab.com.ph. Always buy from your trusted drugstores and retailers.

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