If you recently purchased a new individual or family insurance plan during open enrollment, you may be looking forward to getting your health back on track. Going to the doctor and receiving medications can be refreshing if you have been dealing with a chronic condition or suffering from symptoms of an illness. However, medications may have scary interactions that you don’t know about if the medication is new.
Interactions with Foods
Many people don’t consider the fact that the foods that we eat can affect the way the body absorbs and reacts to drugs – and drugs can affect the way the body processes nutrients from food. When anticoagulants (blood thinners) are taken, foods that are high in vitamin K should be avoided because they can decrease the effectiveness of the medication.
Other food and drug interactions to watch out for include:
- Grapefruit juice and cholesterol lowering medications
- Salt substitutes and ACE inhibitors
- Tyramine rich foods like chocolate, lunch meat, and aged cheeses and MAOIs
- Black licorice and HCTZ drugs for high blood pressure
Supplements That May Cause Interactions
Supplements often fly under a banner of healthiness that can be misleading when it comes to drug interactions. Combining St. John’s Wort with SSRIS can lead to serotonin syndrome. St. John’s Wort can also decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills and have adverse reactions when combined with MAOIs, warfarin, triptans, and many other medications.
Other supplements that may interact poorly with prescribed drugs include ginkgo biloba, goldenseal, kava, melatonin, and saw palmetto. Interactions can range from mild drowsiness to liver toxicity and issues with blood sugar control. It is important to tell your doctor about any supplements that you take as part of your medical history.
Common Drugs That Should Not Be Mixed
Doctors are usually careful not to prescribe drugs that may interact with one another, but it can become an issue when drugs are prescribed by a specialist that may not realize another doctor prescribed certain other medications. For example, SSRIs are often prescribed as antidepressants by mental health specialists and should not be combined with muscle relaxers prescribed by doctors.
Some of the most common drugs that interact are antidepressants, cholesterol medications, and blood pressure medications. While Electronic Health Records are helping to improve the way that information is shared between doctors and specialists, it is still important to be sure that your doctor knows about any drugs you have been prescribed.
If you have not yet purchased health insurance, but know that you should get your health on track, call your local insurance agency today!