Drug interactions

Medicines help us feel better and stay healthy. But, sometimes drug interactions can cause problems. There are three types of drug interactions: drug-drug; drug-food and drug-condition.

Drug interactions can reduce or increase the action of a medicine or cause adverse (unwanted) side effects. Drug interactions, especially drug-drug interactions, can complicate HIV-treatment.

Drug-drug interactions between different HIV medicines and between HIV medicines and other medicines are common. Interactions between medicines may reduce or increase the concentration of a medicine in the blood. The change in concentration can make the affected medicine less effective, more effective, or so strong that it causes dangerous side effects.

Before recommending an HIV regimen, health care providers carefully consider potential drug-drug interactions between HIV medicines. They also ask about other medicines a person may be taking.

The use of HIV medicines can lead to both drug-food interactions and drug-condition interactions. Food or beverages can affect the absorption of some HIV medicines and increase or reduce the concentration of the medicine in the blood. Depending on the HIV medicine, the change in concentration may be helpful or harmful. Directions on how to take HIV medicines specify whether to take the medicine with food, without food, or either way if the HIV medicine isn’t affected by food. 

Conditions such as kidney disease, hepatitis, and pregnancy can affect how the body processes HIV medicines. For example, because of pregnancy-related changes, dosing of an HIV medicine may change during different stages of pregnancy. But pregnant women should always consult with their health care providers before making any changes to their HIV regimens.

To avoid drug interactions: tell your health care provider about all prescription and nonprescription medicines you are taking or plan to take. Also tell your health care provider about any vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you take. Tell your health care provider about any other conditions you may have, for example, high blood pressure or diabetes.

Before taking a medicine, ask your health care provider or pharmacist the following questions:    What is the medicine used for? How should I take the medicine? While taking the medicine, should I avoid any other medicines or certain foods or beverages? Can I take this medicine safely with the other medicines that I am taking? Are there any possible drug interactions I should know about? What are the signs of those drug interactions? In the case of a drug interaction, what should I do?

Take medicines according to your health care provider’s instructions. Tell your health care provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. n

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