Don’t mix medication

By admin
02 September 2013

If you’re on chronic medication, you need to know what over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu medicine is safe to use.

People suffering from chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease should think twice about what over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu medication they choose. “When certain colds and flu drugs are taken in combination with other chronic medications, it could lead to serious complications,” says Mariska Fouche, spokesperson for pharmaceutical company Pharma Dynamics.

“What is most alarming is that while most South Africans choose to self-medicate a cold and flu these days, very few are familiar with the active ingredients in cough, cold or flu pharmaceuticals and how these interact with their chronic drug regime.”

Watch out for the following medications for possible drug interactions:

“Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are stimulants and should be avoided if you suffer from diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disease or glaucoma,” says Fouche. “These products interfere with blood pressure medications and can cause erratic heart palpitations and raise your blood pressure, which can be extremely dangerous when you suffer from these conditions.

“If you consider that almost three in 10 adults in SA – about 6,3 million people – have high blood pressure, they could be mixing a potentially dangerous cocktail when taking the wrong cold and flu remedies, so be sure to read the label first of every OTC medication or speak to a pharmacist before making the purchase,” she advises.

If you have a sensitive stomach, opt for a flu drug that doesn’t contain aspirin. “Aspirin is known to irritate the stomach lining. Most cold and flu medications contain a general pain reliever for aches and pains associated with the condition, so rather choose a remedy which contains paracetamol instead.”

Diabetics need to look for alcohol- and sugar-free cold and flu medications, containing artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sorbitol. Aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen should also be avoided and diabetics are advised to always monitor their blood glucose levels more closely when taking any OTC medication.

Source: Pharma Dynamics

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