Drug interactions are a serious and wide-spread problem in the US. There are over 100,000 cases of pharmaceutical related deaths every year, many of which are caused by combining medications. Drug toxicity due to adverse combinations can be avoided if you check interactions before popping those prescription and over-the-counter pills.
While it’s your Doctor’s job to check for pharmaceutical interactions before prescribing any medications, it’s best to take your life in your own hands and to check interactions yourself if you are taking multiple pharmaceuticals. It’s too frequent an occurrence that a doctor overlooks a drug combination, especially when prescriptions can be given by multiple doctors or specialists. I recommend educating yourself about the dangers of the prescriptions you are given before ever combining medications.
Here are some common dangerous drug interactions which can harm or even kill you if you are combining medications.
• Warfarin (also known as Coumadin). This anticoagulant is prescribed to hundreds of thousands of people with heart disease and can interact with any of the following drugs, causing potentially fatal bleeding.
~ NSAIDS: these include aspirin, Tylenol, and Advil.
~ Erythromycins, Fluoroquinolones
• Sedative-Hypnotic Interactions. Combining more than one of these drugs can prove fatal and can also be fatal when combined with alcohol.
• Serotongergic Drugs. If combined, or taken in too high a dosage, these drugs can cause severe low blood pressure and renal failure. They include:
~ Serotonin Selective Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
~ Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
When combining medications it is important to know what the generic or common names are for the prescription drugs you are taking and what type of drug they are, so you can avoid dangerous drug interactions. It is also important to note that combining many drugs can lead to severe liver toxicity comparable to that which killed Heath Ledger, even if no specific two drugs in the cocktail are known to interact. There are many variables in the body when it comes to adding chemicals, especially many different chemicals at once.
While the FDA has approved drugs as safe to use, and drug companies advertise the benefits of taking prescription and over-the-counter drugs, the dangers involved with combining medications should make more people interested in natural and alternative forms of health care. Even when using herbs and supplements, it is important to check interactions, especially if you are still taking pharmaceutical drugs. If you suspect you are having a drug related interaction, call your doctor or go to the Emergency Room immediately.