Senior Dining Pharmacist Program Catholic Charities September 2013 Questions To Ask About Your Medications-Part Two Does My Medication Contain Anything That Can Cause an Allergic Reaction? First, make sure your doctor and pharmacy know all your drug allergies. Make sure to tell them what the allergic reaction was if you know or remember. Ask your doctor and pharmacist if there is anything in your medical history that would make you more likely to have an allergic reaction to your medication. People with health conditions related to allergies, such as asthma and hay fever, may be more likely to have an allergic reaction to certain types of medication. Also, certain medications such as antibiotics are more likely to cause allergic reactions. What Foods, Drinks, or Activities Should I Avoid While Taking This Medication? Certain foods and alcohol can interact with your medication. For example, grapefruit interacts with medications used to treat high cholesterol, such as Zocor® (simvastatin). Alcohol can increase the side effects of medications used to treat anxiety, such as lorazepam, or narcotic pain pills by causing excess drowsiness which may increase your risk of falls. Some medications such those containing diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) may make a person drowsy and increase the risk of car accidents so one should not drive after taking this medication. Is It Safe For Me to Take This Medication With My Other Medications, Herbal Products, Vitamins, or Dietary Supplements? Your medication may interact with other drugs and supplements causing an adverse reaction or reducing their effectiveness. It is important to inform your doctor and pharmacist about all of the medications, herbal products, and supplements that you are taking so she can advise you about possible interactions. For example, some medications taken with the cholesterol lowering medications called statins, may increase your risk of muscle aches. Another example is taking calcium tablets at the same time as your thyroid medications may make the thyroid medication less effective. Calcium may reduce how much thyroid medication is absorbed into your body. Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to substitute for medical advice. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medication condition. Professional opinions and interpretations may vary. This program is not intended to take the place of your pharmacist. Senior Dining Pharmacist Program September 2013 Rumor Vs Truth Aspirin Can Prevent Cancer There is an element of truth to this rumor but it is too early to recommend taking aspirin for cancer prevention. There are some studies that have shown a decrease in colorectal cancer and certain other cancers. New studies show that aspirin may reduce the risk of cancer and death from cancer. This differs from two previous large studies showing aspirin doesn’t prevent cancer. Interestingly, the two studies not showing benefit were not included in the new analyses because of dosing differences. Aspirin is not recommended under current guidelines for cancer prevention. Aspirin’s bleeding risks appear to outweigh the benefit when used purely for cancer prevention. The current statistics are: it takes 247 patients taking aspirin for 6 years to prevent one cancer death BUT 72 serious bleeding incidents will occur. Aspirin does make sense for those with cardiovascular disease and to prevent cardiovascular disease. For cancer prevention, there are too many unknowns and it remains unclear if the benefit of aspirin outweighs the risks. Ginger Works for Arthritis Pain Ginger has been turning up in some pain supplements. There is a theory that Ginger works like an NSAID type medication (the ibuprofen class of drugs). Ginger may be effective for osteoarthritis pain. Studies have found it does not work as well as ibuprofen osteoarthritic pain and, if it works, it can take up to three months to show an effect. Recommended doses vary, but one should try to use less than 2 grams per day. If one does not notice pain relief within 3 months, ginger should be discontinued. At recommended doses (less than 2 grams per day or less of ginger extract), the risk of adverse effects is small. Some patients may experience heartburn, diarrhea, or pepper-like irritation in their mouth. If you are taking drugs to inhibit platelets or anticoagulants like aspirin, Plavix®, or warfarin, ginger should not be used since it can increase your risk of bleeding when added to these medications. Ginger may also reduce blood sugars. If you are taking diabetic medications, ginger should be used with caution as it may reduce your blood sugars. Discuss Ginger use with your physician before taking it. Generally, acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or a NSAID would be your best bet for more rapid and effective pain relief. Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to substitute for medical advice. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medication condition. Professional opinions and interpretations may vary. This program is not intended to be educational and not to take the place of your pharmacist or physician.