If you or your loved one is dealing with a medical condition, taking medications is standard, but being cautious about the types of medicines and supplements you take is vital to staying healthy. Dr. Demetra Antimisiaris, associate professor in the schools of public health and medicine and director of the Frazier Polypharmacy Program at the University of Louisville, offers a few suggestions for how to practice good judgment when taking medications.
If possible, reduce the number of medications you take. “Realize that every drug you take can put you at a higher or lower risk of drug interactions. A lot of drugs will interact with viruses. We don’t know how medications will interact with an infection or how an infection will interact with maintenance medications so it is important during this pandemic to try to minimize taking medications you don’t need.”
Watch the amount of vitamin C you are taking. “Many people are taking a lot of vitamin C, but you have to be careful because vitamin C can cause changes in the acidity of your urine, which can lead to kidney stones, and it can change how other medications behave. It might make you have a high toxic level of your prescription medicines or a sub-therapeutic level, so if you acidify the urine by taking too much vitamin C, it will pull some medications out of your body or make some stay in longer.”
Stay hydrated. “Make sure you or your loved one are well hydrated. When you are at home all day, it is easy to forget to drink water, but medications work better and are safer when you are well hydrated. The opposite is true if you are dehydrated.”
Be aware of drug interactions. “You can research information about any medication you are taking on Drugs.com. It has an interaction checker and a pill identifier which will show pictures of different pills. When you click on the identification checker, you can enter your medications and supplements and the website will list the interaction and tell you how this will affect your body.”
Talk to your pharmacist if you are taking multiple medications. “Ask your pharmacist to help you look over your medication list and make sure you aren’t taking something you don’t need. Whenever you see your doctor, mention you are concerned about the number of medications you are taking and would like to review it, because if you don’t request it they may not do it. As a general rule you should go to your doctor or pharmacist to request a medication review. Medicare D provides a medication therapy management checkup for Medicare recipients.”
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BY TIFFANY WHITE