Watch Out for Dangerous Drug Interactions

Patient Expert

How many drugs are you taking today? How many of them are for your diabetes?

It’s easy to forget to consider some of the drugs that you take. Of course you included your prescriptions, but did you remember to include those that you buy over the counter? Also, some people don’t realize that herbal supplements are drugs. When you include these sources, it’s not uncommon for some people with diabetes to be taking three or even more drugs for their condition.

Drugs in any of these categories have side effects, some of which nobody discovers until many people start taking them. For example, half a million people were taking the prescription diabetes drug Rezulin 15 years ago when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned it after at least 63 of us died from the liver failure that it caused.

But it’s not only the side effects that we need to be concerned about. The drugs that we take interact with each other.

Too Much of a Good Thing

As much as we complain about the cost of drugs and about the big pharmaceutical companies that make them, there can’t be any doubt that they have saved many lives. But sometimes we get too much of a good thing. The more drugs we take the more interactions they have. Sometimes the interactions make the effect of the drugs greater, but the interactions can instead cause a decrease in the effects of one or both of the drugs.

Luckily, researchers have studied the interactions among many of the drugs we take. A site that is easy to use is the Drug Interaction Report. It also includes the interactions of drugs with food and beverages.

Check for Interactions

I use this site to check for any possible interactions whenever I take a new drug. Regular readers of my articles know that I stopped taking any drugs to help me manage my diabetes about eight years ago, choosing to manage it instead with a very low-carb diet. But I take two prescriptions for hypothyroidism, one to dissolve gallstones, and one over-the-counter drug to manage my allergies at this time of the year. I was relieved to find that the Drug Interactions Checker didn’t find any interactions among these drugs.

The drug that I need to manage my allergies is diphenhydramine, which is generic Benadryl. While it doesn’t interact with any of the drugs I’m taking now, it interacts with more than 300 other drugs, 28 of which are major interactions.

I hope that when you check for interactions you don’t find any. But if you do, what can you do then? Sometimes you can avoid the interactions by taking them at different times of the day. If they aren’t prescriptions, you might choose an alternative that the drug interaction site recommends. Otherwise, your best course of action is to work out alternatives with your doctor.

See more of my articles about how to manage diabetes:

Diabetes without Drugs

The Safety of Diabetes Drugs

Using Expired Medicine