Food/drug interactions can be deadly

By: Laurie Ott
By: Laurie Ott

Before you drink that next glass of milk or grapefruit juice--or even have dinner tonight--you should know there are some things that just don't mix with your medicines. Tonight, my special assignment: dangerous and deadly food and drug combinations.

When was the last time eating your veggies got you into health trouble? It's surprising---but lots of drugs and foods do not mix...as we found out when we sat down with MCG’s Dr. Rusty May.

"This is one place where fatal interactions were reported."

He’s talking about mixing antibiotics like Zyvox or anti-depressants like Nardil with foods rich in tyramine...like herring, aged cheese and Chianti wine.

"What can happen with mixing these drugs with tyramine-rich food is rapid spike in blood pressure and that can lead to obvious problems."

Something else to watch out for: mixing a popular acne medicine, tetraclycline, with dairy--if you do, it can be just like taking nothing at all for that sinus infection.

"You don't mix tetracycline with milk--it will bind 100%..and another popular antibiotic, levaquin, is also made useless if you take it with milk or any dairy product....meaning any stubborn or nasty infection you're trying to get rid of might stick around even longer.

“Another big offender is grapefruit juice---there's something in it that keeps your body from breaking down a number of medications, among them calcium channel blockers.

"That particular class of drugs are used for hypertension, irregular heart beats, so too much of a drug actually causes a cardiovascular side effect or irregular heart beats."

And that has the potential to kill you.

Another medicine commonly taken by older folks is the blood thinner Warfarin.

“It's a wonderful life-saving drug, but you have to be so careful, not enough and it doesn't work, too much and you bleed to death."

And all these nice healthy greens? Dr. May says they contain “huge amounts of Vitamin K and that helps you clot blood and you're on a drug to help you not clot blood."

"You can eat them, you just can't change your habits on how you eat them."

Dr. May says every drug you are prescribed should come with written information, and you should always read those stickers on the side of your prescription. If you have any questions, ask your pharmacist or doctor.

Sometimes the label says, "Take on empty stomach.” Generally the rule of thumb is an hour before a meal or 2 hours after one.


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