Millions of consumers are using the Internet to get health information. And thousands of web sites are offering health information. Some of those sites are reliable and up-to-date; some are not. How can you tell the good from the bad?
The medicines that sold online can be fake (counterfeit or 'copycat' medicines); can be too strong or too weak, or have dangerous ingredients, or have expired (are out-of-date), or haven't been approved or checked for safety and effectiveness, can be made using non-safe standards, or not safe to use with other medicine or products you use.
Make sure the site requires a prescription and has a pharmacist available for questions.
Although medicines can make you feel better and help you get well, it's important to know that all medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, have risks as well as benefits.
To lower the risks and obtain the full benefits of medicines you need a)talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professionals; b)know your medicines--prescription and over-the-counter; c)read the label and follow directions; d)avoid interactions; e)monitor your medicines' effects--and the effects of other products that you use
Important: think it through and work together with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional to better manage the benefits and risks of your medicines.
You need keep an up-to-date, written list of ALL of the medicines (prescription and over-the-counter) and dietary supplements, including vitamins and herbals, that you use--even those you only use occasionally.
You have to always tell your doctor if you are or might become pregnant, or if you are nursing a baby. Always ask questions about any concerns or thoughts that you may have.
Before use a medicine make sure you understand the directions; ask your doctor if you have questions or concerns. Always double check that you have the right medicine.
Before starting any new medicine or dietary supplement (including vitamins or herbal supplements), ask your doctor again if there are possible interactions with what you are currently using.
If you take several different medicines, see more than one doctor, or have certain health conditions, you and your doctors need to be aware of all the medicines you take. Doing so will help you to avoid potential problems such as drug interactions.
Mixing two drugs together could make one of the drugs ineffective. The combination also could increase a drug's effect, and be harmful. The result might be mild symptoms such as nausea, stomach upset, or headache, or more serious symptoms such as a dramatic drop in blood pressure, irregular heart beat, or damage to the liver-the primary way that drugs pass through the human body.
A drug may affect these enzymes by inhibiting them, which causes reduced activity of the enzyme and a buildup of the drug in the body. Or drugs may "induce" the enzymes, which causes increased activity of the enzyme and a reduction of the drug in the body.
This phase of research in test tubes, known as in vitro studies, allows researchers to perform drug-interaction studies in labs by testing a drug with other drugs that have the same route. This has made the research faster and more accurate. If two drugs go through the same enzyme, the presence of one drug can prevent the metabolism of the other. So this allows you to look at the worst-case scenarios and ask: 'What if we put this drug with that one, knowing that they have the same route?'"
Researchers say there are several important variables that affect individual differences in how drugs are metabolized, including race, gender, age, and health conditions. For example, people with kidney or liver disease don't eliminate drugs from their system as well as people who are healthy. Very young children and older people have slower drug metabolism than others, and women may metabolize drugs differently than men in some cases.
The large number of drugs on the market, combined with the common use of multiple medications, makes the risk for drug interactions significant. Consumers need to tell doctors what they're taking and ask questions, and health professionals could do a better job at trying to get the information they want.
Drug interactions with other drugs includes both prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Tricyclic antidepressants such as Elavil (amitriptyline) and Pamelor (nortriptyline) can interfere with blood pressure-lowering Catapres (clonidine). Taking the antibiotic Cipro (ciprofloxacin) with antacids lowers Cipro's effectiveness.
Examples of food with tyramine are cheese and soy sauce. Grapefruit juice should not be taken with certain blood pressure-lowering drugs or cyclosporine for the prevention of organ transplant rejection. Alcohol should not be taken with pain relievers such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen because of the increased risk of liver damage or stomach bleeding.