Beware of Drug Interactions!

A colleague recently asked if it bothered me to be know I was going to have to take a medication for the rest of my life? He was going to have to start a daily medication, and it was bothering him that he had to rely on a medication every day.

I burst out laughing – because I don’t just take one medication, I take a LOT of medications for different medical conditions. If only I just had to worry about asthma…..

So, when you take a lot of medications, how do you make sure they are all safe to take together? I had a scary learning experience this week.

I have been sick for the last week and a half, battling bronchitis (2nd time this year….). One day I woke up and knew it was time for the next step in my treatment program, which would mean adding a steroid and an antibiotic. How do you know what you should do? I have an Asthma Action Plan, so I know what steps I need to take to control my asthma.

There are different versions of Asthma Action Plans, but they all have the same green, yellow and red zones. Each zone will have different steps and medication you can use to help your asthma. I was deep in the yellow zone.

I was already take a high dose daily controller twice a day, using my nebulizer for breathing treatments every 4-6 hours (and still having a hard time breathing), and coughing up colored phlegm, so I knew it was time for the next step. For me, that means a burst of prednisone and an antibiotic.

I woke up early Sunday morning and knew that I needed to call the after hours doc and ask him if he could call in the prescriptions. Since I had lost my voice, I had the Hubster call and talk to After Hours Doc. I realized he had sent the prescriptions to our normal pharmacy, which is closed on Sundays. So the Hubster had to page After Hours Doc again and have them call in the prescriptions to a 24 hour pharmacy. I was hoping the antibiotic and steroids would help me turn the corner.

The next day, I got a call the from my doc who said there was a possible drug interaction and they wanted to see me in the office. I was curious what might interact – so I looked up my medications on Drugs.com. You can enter your medications, and it can alert you to a mild/moderate or severe interaction on their “Drugs Interaction Checker” page. (You’ll have to click on a waiver that their website doesn’t replace medical advice.)

Well, the antibiotic that After Hours Doc called in was listed as a possible “moderate drug interaction” with 3 medications I was already taking!  And the side effects were scary, so I stopped taking the antibiotic until I could get to the doctor’s office.

Remember how they originally called in my prescriptions to my regular pharmacy? That “mistake” allowed my regular pharmacist to catch the drug interaction. He always takes care of me and my family! I have used the 24 hour pharmacy before, but since they weren’t my regular pharmacy, I realized they didn’t have a list of all of my medicines.

So I went to the doctor’s office to have him listen to my lungs and switch my antibiotic to another one that wouldn’t interact with my other medications. He kept me on the predinosone and I am hoping to get better. Respiratory infections have a habit of hanging on when you have asthma.

What’s the lesson learned here? Always use the same pharmacy! I have used the 24 hour pharmacy before, but they didn’t have a complete list of all of the other medications I take. My regular pharmacy refills all my prescriptions every month, so when a new one comes in, it can be flagged if it interacts.I think they have a computer program that will flag a drug interaction.

Always read the directions on the paperwork that comes with your prescription – most people just throw them away. My new antibiotic doesn’t allow me to drink dairy 2 hours before or after taking it, so I have to be careful what I eat.

So, read the directions, watch for possible side effects and call the doctor if you are concerned about an interaction!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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