7 medication combinations that could be deadly


Medication is an important part of the treatment of many conditions. Millions of people would die without medication for their respective conditions.

However, we often mix medications without knowing how they may interact with each other. Do you remember when you took that pain medication you got from your friend because you had a backache? If you don't consult a doctor, you might unwittingly combine the wrong medications – and pay a deadly price. We look at seven deadly medication combinations.

1. Prozac and Tramadol

Mixing the popular antidepressant Prozac and the pain medication Tramadol (often used for backache) can lead to a dangerous condition known as serotonin syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, all selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil increase the levels or serotonin in the brain. Opioids such as Tramadol and Oxycodone have a similar effect in the body, and mixing these medications can lead to an oversupply of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Read: 7 medications banned in SA

2. St John’s Wort and Warfarin

St John's Wort is botanical dietary supplement, but few people realise the potential danger when you combine this supplement with certain prescription medications. According to the University of Maryland, St. John's wort either increases or decreases the effectiveness of potentially life-saving medication. One lethal combination can be with Warfarin, a prescription medication used to prevent harmful blood clots from forming or growing larger. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Other medications this supplement should never be taken with are HIV medication, antihistamines and birth control pills. 

3. Clarithromycin and calcium-channel blockers

Clarithromycin is a popular antibiotic, often prescribed for pneumonia and Lyme disease. Mixing this medication with antihypertensive calcium-channel blockers (such as Verapamil, Amlodipine and Diltiazem) is associated with increases in hospitalisation for acute kidney injury, hypotension and even death, according to research from the University of Western Ontario. “When hypotension occurs, the kidney is particularly prone to acute ischaemic injury from poor perfusion,” the study found.

4. Thyroid medication and proton pump inhibitors

The thyroid medication levothyroxine is an important replacement for a hormone normally produced by your thyroid gland to regulate the body’s energy and metabolism, studies found. But taking this medication with proton pump inhibitors (used mainly for gastric acid production) can be very dangerous. Omeprazole is an example of the latter and can interfere with hormone absorption, and this can lead to patients developing hypothyroidism.

Read: How nutrition and medication can help with arthritis

5. Digoxin and Macrolides

Digoxin is used to treat heart failure and a certain type of irregular heartbeat, but Macrolide antibiotics can counteract this medication. Research from the University of Toledo shows this effect can be of “clinical significance” when Macrolide leads to an irregular heartbeat, a symptom that can have deadly consequences.

6. Pravastatin and Paroxetine

Studies from Harvard University shows Pravastatin, a cholesterol-reducing drug, and Paroxetine, a widely used antidepressant, should never be mixed. It can lead to an increase in blood sugars that can make your diabetes harder to control, or may even increase your risk for being diagnosed with this condition.

7. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antihypertensives

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can induce an increase in blood pressure and may potentially reduce the efficacy of several antihypertensive drugs, a study from Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville found. NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen and antihypertensives, such as Thiazide, have often been associated with elevated blood pressure.

Read more:

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