Food and drug interactions

Foods and drugs interaction

There's a lot you have to pay attention to when you're managing medications for yourself or another person — including taking medications as prescribed and avoiding unwanted interactions with food or other medications.

Interactions between certain foods and medications can be dangerous, so it’s important to talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medications or diet.

How to reduce the possibility of food and drug interactions

Listed below are some common medications (for blood pressure, for instance) and common food ingredients that may cause unwanted interactions.1

MAO inhibitors with foods containing tyramine are a bad combination

Taking MAO inhibitors with foods that contain tyramine may cause extremely high blood pressure, fever, and in rare circumstances, death.1 Examples of foods with tyramine include:

  • aged cheese
  • chianti wines
  • chicken liver
  • venison
  • sauerkraut
  • aged sausages like pepperoni and salami

Blood thinners and leafy greens can be a recipe for trouble

Taking medications that contain warfarin in combination with large portions of foods high in vitamin K, such as leafy greens, may make the medication less effective.2 Consider eating these foods in moderation and regularly to help your medicine’s effectiveness.

Alcohol and certain medications can be a toxic combination

Drinking alcohol while taking large doses of acetaminophen containing products may cause liver damage. Drinking alcohol while taking metronidazole for infections may result in flushing, vomiting and increased heart rate.

Taking antidepressant, arrhythmia, transplant, seizure, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol medications with grapefruit or grapefruit juice can be life-threatening

Studies have shown that mixing certain medications with grapefruit juice can cause dangerously high levels of those medications in the blood, which may cause potentially life-threatening side effects.3 These medications include antidepressant, arrhythmia, transplant, seizure, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol medications.

Osteoporosis medications as well as some antibiotics shouldn't be taken with calcium

Taking osteoporosis medications and certain antibiotics along with calcium-fortified foods and drinks such as milk, orange juice, bread, or antacids may reduce the effectiveness of these medications. Try to take your medication two hours before or four hours after consuming calcium-rich food and drinks.

Don’t take aspirin on an empty stomach

Aspirin and other over-the-counter pain medications taken without food can cause stomach bleeding.

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