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Friday, December 15, 2017

Watching for drug interactions

(Shutterstock image)

This month, I got bronchitis (again!) It had gone through the whole family and I thought I wasn't going to get it because I am a germaphobe and so careful with washing my hands.

But, as soon as the scratchy throat started, I knew I was in for the long haul.

With any medical condition that needs a prescription, it's hard to juggle medications and find one that won't interact with another.

As my cold turned into bronchitis, I knew it was time for an antibiotic and an oral steroid. How did I know? I have an Asthma Action Plan that Asthma Doc filled out for me. 

Asthma Action Plans are like stop lights - green, yellow and red zones. Each zone tells you what to do if you are in that zone. Green means "GO", or you are good and not having symptoms. Yellow means "CAUTION" because you are starting to cough, are short of breathe, wheezing, etc. The Red Zone means "STOP" and call 911 or go to the closest hospital.

I was in the bottom of the yellow zone because I was taking my controller inhaler twice a day, using my nebulizer with albuterol, and was still struggling to breathe. 

You can see that this Asthma Action Plan says "Keep ORAL STEROIDS on hand in case you fall into STEP 3 of the yellow zone or into the red zone." 

    
Since my steroids had expired, I had to call the doc to call in a prescription. Since I have asthma, and was coughing up colored phlegm, he decided to put me on an antibiotic too.

However, Pharmacist called to say there was a possible drug interaction between the many medications that I take. 

I am SO glad he flagged that as a problem! That's why it's important to always use the same pharmacy.

If you have to use an after hours pharmacy, make sure they know about ALL of the medicines you usually take. My pharmacy has a program that will alert the pharmacist to a drug interaction.

There is also a website you can use, on Drugs.com click on the Drug Interactions Checker. (It's not a substitute for talking to your doctor or pharmacist, but can help in a pinch.) 

I found out that I could have had some VERY serious complications if I had taken the antibiotic that the doc called into the pharmacy. So, doc called in a different medication.

It's taken 2 weeks, and I missed a week of work (and time I could have spent getting ready for Christmas!) but I am on the mend.

Make sure you know what to do if you are in the green, yellow or red zones for asthma. And if you need a new medication, make sure you use your regular pharmacy to check for drug interactions. Or tell the after hours pharmacy about ALL of the medicine you take so they can check for a drug interaction.

If you are already sick, the last thing you need is a serious drug interaction!

 

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