Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), specifically those on dialysis on average take more than 20 pills per day. Having Diabetes only adds to a patient's pill burden. There are countless drug interactions that occur between different medications that you are taking, the food that you eat or what you drink. Drug interactions can change the way your medications act in your body, making them less effective. Frankly, what is worse is that these numerous interactions can cause unexpected and potentially dangerous side effects and in some cases death. Those with CKD are at greater risk for negative drug interactions than others since a larger proportion of patients take prescription medications and over-the-counter vitamins.
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You likely have no pharmaceutical background and are unfamiliar with what meds you should and should not ever mix. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 700,000 emergency room department visits and 120,000 hospitalizations annually are due to adverse drug events including negative drug interactions. While these figures may be startling, there are things you can do to keep yourself safe.
Most know that by following your Nephrologists directions carefully when taking medication it limits risk. However even for Nephrologists it is difficult to predict exactly when a negative interaction will surface. Moreover, the type of medications you take, your age, diet, disease, and overall health can all affect your risk. There are three important types of drug interactions:
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Drug-Drug Interactions occur when two or more drugs interact with each other. Many associate Drug-Drug Interactions with prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs. Yet vitamins, supplements and herbal products can also cause harmful side effects. For instance, the herbal supplement Ginkgo Bilboa can cause excessive bleeding if taken with aspirin.
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Drug-Food Interactions occur when a drug interacts with something you eat or drink. For instance, dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese, can interfere with the absorption of antibiotics into the bloodstream making them less effective. Vegetables containing vitamin K, such as broccoli, can decrease the effectiveness of certain blood thinning drugs (used to prevent blood clotting), such as Warfarin.
Most people should know not to mix alcohol and drugs such as antidepressants. Still some CKD patients drink a little alcohol infrequently (which is typically not recommended). What you likely did not know is that even a very small amount of beer, wine, or liquor can increase your risk of stomach bleeding or liver damage when mixed with aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen.
Drug-Condition Interactions may occur when a medication interacts with an existing health condition. One lesser known issue that is relevant to you is Decongestant (such as pseudoephedrine found in many cough and cold preparations). It can increase blood pressure and may be dangerous for people with hypertension. Another relevant issue is the use of Diuretics such as Hydrodiuril (hydrochlorothiazide) which can increase blood sugar in people with Diabetes.
It can be tedious and seem unnecessary, but read the labels of your medications for any warnings and look for the "Drug Interaction Precaution." Review these warnings carefully and ask your Pharmacists for a drug information sheet. Also try to use the same pharmacy for all your prescription medications and over-the-counter products. This way your Pharmacists have a record of all your prescription drugs and can advise you about drug interactions and side effects.
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Stop right now, and grab your medicine bag, a pen and paper to make a list of all your prescription medications and over-the-counter products, including drugs, vitamins, and supplements. Review this list with your healthcare teams including your Nephrologists and Pharmacists to make sure that they are aware of any vitamins or supplements that you take.
Where Can I Find Information About Drug Interactions for My Medications? KidneyBuzz.com of course! We provide Daily News & Information to teach Chronic Kidney Disease patients how they can better manage their lives. So just stop by any day or every day. We just ask that you share the material with others that can benefit from them also.
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"Drug Interactions: Reducing Your Risk." Http://drugs.about.com/od/medicationabcs/a/drug_interact.htm. About.com Drugs.
"Drug Interactions - Deadly Cocktails." Http://www.wddty.com/drug-interactions.html. WDDTY Publishing Ltd.
"Injury Prevention & Control." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.