Weatherford Democrat

November 30, 2007

Be aware of potential food and drug interaction

Kathy Smith, Democrat Columnist

Modern medicine has provided us with many drugs that can treat everything from colds to high cholesterol to diabetes. You may not think that taking medication is nutrition-related, however when food and medication are taken together, they can often interact.

Food and drug interaction may make a drug not as effective. They can cause side effects and sometimes increase the action of certain drugs. Some food and drug interactions can even be harmful. The possible effects depends not only on the type of drug, the dosage and the form in which the drug is taken, but also a person’s age, sex, weight, nutritional status and overall health.

To help reduce the risk for possible food and drug interactions, follow the dosage directions exactly and practice these general guidelines for taking medication.

n Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all medication that you are taking, including over-the counter medications and dietary supplements. Some medications can cause harmful interactions with vitamin and mineral supplements and/or herbal remedies.

n Read all labels on the medication bottles carefully. If you don’t understand the directions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

n Be sure to take medication with a full glass of water, if recommended. This is especially important for most cholesterol-lowering medications.

n Pay attention to when the medication should be taken. Some, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, are better taken at mealtime to avoid stomach irritation. Other medications should be taken on an empty stomach because food may slow their absorption and/or action.

n Check if there are certain types of food and/or beverages that shouldn’t be consumed within several hours of the medication. For example, calcium in milk and milk products decreases the absorption of certain antibiotics, including tetracycline. Most drugs should not be taken with soda or high-acid fruit or vegetables juices. These types of beverages can result in excess stomach acidity, which may cause the drug to dissolve before it reaches the small intestine, thereby decreasing absorption. Also, don’t mix medications with hot beverages. Doing so may alter their effectiveness.

n Tell your pharmacist if you are on a sodium-restricted diet. Some prescription and over-the-counter medication contain sodium, including antacids, headache medication, laxatives and sedatives.

n Medications should not be taken with alcohol. Alcohol can block the effects os some medications while enhancing the effects of others. Even small amounts of alcohol have been shown to interact with several medications, including antibiotics, allergy remedies, blood thinners and sleeping pills.

n Don’t disassemble capsules or mix medications in with food. Also don’t crush or split pills unless instructed to do so by your doctor or pharmacist.

n If you have been taking a specific medication for a long period of time, ask your doctor if there is a potential for any vitamin and/or mineral deficiency and whether a supplement is needed.

Source: Food and Drug Administration


Kathy Smith is the Parker County extension agent. Her column appears Sundays. She may be contacted at (817) 598-6168.