Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why the check for medication history and current medications?

Ever wonder why you are asked for your medication history and list of current medications at the pharmacy?

Do you usually volunteer these information? Or are you one of those who refused to 'own up' your medication list (thinking you are more drug-smart than your pharmacist)?

Here's why you had better 'own up' your medicines...

1) To avoid drug-drug interactions or drug-herb interactions

Many medications interact with each other. Some medicines can reduce the efficacy of another eg. by blocking its absorption, while some can increase the level of another medicine in the body giving 'toxic effect'. Yes, even herbs can interact with your medications. Avoid herbs especially if you are taking any blood-thinning medicines or anti-epileptic medicines.
A few examples:
- Gingko makes people on warfarin more prone to bleeding
- Dextromethorphan interacts with alzheimer medicines
- Taking two sedating medicines aggravate drowsiness

2) The 'ailment' that you are having could be due to your medication

The side effects of your current or recent medication may manifest as your so-called 'new ailment'.
Example: diarrhea from metformin, flu-like symptoms from neutropenic medications or immuno-suppressive medications.

Medications could also induce allergic response such as swollen lips and eyes, or itchy rashes. Severe allergy cases such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome or Anaphylactic shock would need prompt treatment by doctor rather than self-treatment.

3) Medication use restrictions in certain medical conditions

Patients with kidney or liver problems should avoid certain medications that can further damage their organs. Some would need dose-adjustment of medications based on the level of organ function.

4) Medication-induced conditions

For example, some antibiotics can give rise problems of yeast infection or diarrhea. This is because the antibiotic not only kill the infection-causing bacteria, it also kills the good bacteria that normally suppress other bad bacteria (the ones not sensitive to this antibiotic). These bad bacteria, usually present in small amount in our body and doesn't cause any problem, suddenly has the opportunity to grow and cause a problem.
Example: Clostridium difficile colitis from fluoroquinolones, cephalosporins, clindamycin or penicillins. In mild cases, stopping the antibiotic and taking probiotic supplements help to resolve the Clostridium infection. However, just taking anti-diarrhea pills such as loperamide alone is not going to be useful.

Pharmacists can't read your mind nor decipher your lies... It is up to you to tell us what medications you are taking to the best of your knowledge.

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