Going to the pharmacy or drugstore can be overwhelming. Whether you’re looking for the right vitamin, choosing a cold medicine, or just picking up a prescription, there are long aisles to explore and complex instructions to figure out.
There is an easy way to feel more comfortable about your medications. When you know the right things to consider, you can feel confident that you’re on a safer and more effective treatment path for your unique health profile.
You don’t need a prescription for vitamins, herbal preparations, or minerals. But it is still important to understand how they affect your body, and how they might potentially interact with other drugs.
If you’re adding a dietary supplement as part of your food and medicine regimen, ask a pharmacist first. Your pharmacist can look at your health history and your current medications to help you think through considerations like these:
Be cautious about vitamin supplements. In some situations, your doctor or pharmacist may recommend certain vitamin supplements because of a health condition or medications you take. But it’s important to know that supplements can have both beneficial and harmful effects. It all depends on the supplement dose and preparation, the medications you take, your vitamin levels, and your health history.
Too often, adverse effects caused by vitamins or other supplements go unrecognized because they don’t involve a prescription medication.
Herbal preparations also come with risks. St. John’s Wort, for example, may interact with medications for depression, migraines, or other medical conditions which may cause dangerous reactions.(1)
Other herbal products may affect how your body handles anesthesia – a potential concern for anyone scheduled for surgery.(2)
Consider the effects of mineral supplements. Many of us may not get enough of some minerals in our diet alone. Minerals like magnesium are important for a normal heart rhythm and healthy mood. Calcium helps strengthen bones. But supplements can cause nausea, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and also potentially interfere with prescription medications.(3)
Taking the right minerals properly is important so you don’t cause a new problem requiring treatment.
Just like prescription medicines, over-the-counter medications (OTCs) can work extremely well to treat your symptoms. But it is important to remember that they also come with risks and potential interactions with other drugs or supplements you take.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a good example of one class of OTCs to be cautious about. You probably have some in your medicine cabinet right now. Ibuprofen (Advil®), naproxen (Aleve®), and aspirin are all different types of NSAIDS.(4)
These pain relievers and fever-reducers can play an important role in our health care, but their use should be short-term and monitored with caution. NSAIDS can be hard on the stomach and should not be taken on an empty stomach. The risk of stomach problems goes up for people who take them regularly.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are another popular example of OTCs that require extra attention. You might know them by names like Omeprazole (Prilosec®), Esomeprazole (Nexium®), and Lansoprazole (Prevacid®). They can be used successfully to treat acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and gastric ulcers.(5,6)
Long-term use of PPIs can also come with certain risks, so it is important to consider how long you should keep taking these medications. PPIs may interfere with the absorption of micronutrients including vitamin B12, magnesium, and calcium. This can lead to a higher risk for bone fractures. Long-term use may also contribute to chronic kidney disease and an increase in infections.(7)
At MOBE, you have access to health guidance and support, including a team of clinical pharmacists. MOBE Pharmacists recognize that over-the-counter medications and supplements can be a necessary and successful part of your medication regimen. Ask one of our Pharmacists to review everything you are taking to make sure you’re using OTCs and supplements safely and effectively.
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