Excerpted from "A Year of Health Hints"
365 Practical Ways to Feel Better and Live Longer
Popping that pill into your mouth or spooning down that elixir
may be hazardous to your health if you don't observe basic rules.
1. Report adverse reactions, especially
unexpected side effects, to your physician. Not everyone responds
to medication in the same manner.
2. Because two or more drugs taken within a
24-hour period may interact negatively, tell your doctor if you
are taking more than one kind of drug. One drug may slow down or
speed up the effect of the other.
3. Ask your pharmacist about food and drug
interactions. Some foods may affect the rate at which a
medication works, or they can prevent it from working at all.
Some combinations can have even more dangerous consequences. When
prescription drugs used to treat depression (MAO inhibitors) are
consumed with cheese and other foods containing tyramine, for
example, dangerously elevated blood pressure levels may result.
4. Don't drink alcohol while on a medication if
you don't know its effect. Regular alcohol use can speed up the
metabolism of certain drugs, reducing their intended
effectiveness. When alcohol is present in the system, other drugs
such as sedatives can become deadly.
5. If you are having laboratory tests performed,
be sure to inform the physician of all drugs, including
nutritional supplements, you have been taking. Certain test
results can be influenced. If you have administered a medical
self-test, ask your pharmacist about possible drug influence.
6. Always ask your physician if a generic
equivalent would be okay to use. Generic drugs are usually less
expensive than the brand name item, and may be equally effective.
There are certain situations in which a specific brand of
medication may be required in order to ensure a consistent
dosage. This is particularly important with medications for the
heart, lung, and for hormonal disorders.
7. Tell your doctor if:
You've ever experienced
an allergic reaction, and to what.
You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Another doctor is also treating you.
You have diabetes or kidney or liver
You're regularly taking vitamins, birth
control pills, insulin, or other drugs.
You use alcohol or tobacco.