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David Mittleman
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Seven Dangerous Food and Drug Combinations

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Beware Combining These Drugs and Foods

You might not realize that some of your prescription and OTC drugs make interact in dangerous ways with some foods.  It’s true though, and it’s important to stay informed so that you don’t make the mistake of taking the drug with a food that will inhibit the drug’s effectiveness or worse.  Read on for the most common, yet unrecognized, dangerous combinations of food and OTC or prescription drugs.

  1. Limes and cough medicine: some citrus fruits such as limes can inhibit the active ingredient in cough medicine, dextromethorphan.  The medication can build up in your blood stream and increase side effects such as hallucinations and sleepiness, which may last for several days.
  2. Dairy products and antibiotics: considering that we live in the heart of dairy country here in the Midwest, it’s probably pretty important to know that your antibiotics could become less effective if you take them with dairy products.  Some antibiotics tend to bind to minerals in dairy products, preventing their absorption by the body and their effectiveness in fighting infection.  If you are on antibiotics, it’s best to avoid dairy two hours before and after taking a pill.
  3. Smoked meat and antidepressants: some antidepressants, or MAOIs, taken at the same time as the consumption of smoked meats high in the amino acid Tyramine can cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure.  This includes summer sausage, smoke salmon, red wine, sauerkrat, hot dogs, aged cheeses, soy sauce, draft or home-brewed beer.  However, some newer antidepressants do not have the same interaction with Tyramine.
  4. Chocolate and Ritalin: you know how chocolate is bad for dogs?  Well that’s because of the stimulant called theobromine, which dogs cannot break down.  Taking Ritalin with chocolate can cause somewhat of a similar response in humans, leading to erratic behavior and seizures.  This is also true for drinking caffeine with Ritalin, so it’s best if you wait a few hours between your Ritalin dosage and the consumption of chocolate or caffeinated drinks.  Either that, or you can lighten up your chocolate (darker chocolate contains higher amounts of theobromine).
  5. Apple juice and allergy medications: drinking apple juice while taking allergy medication to combat hay fever (e.g. Allegra) within four hours can decrease your body’s ability to absorb the allergy medication.  Apple juice inhibits a peptide in the body that transports the drugs from your stomach to your bloodstream, decreasing the drug’s effectiveness by up to 70%.

These are but some of the less well known, but serious drug and food interactions.  You can read more online, but always make sure to discuss any concerns or questions you may have with your doctor.  It’s best to ask your questions instead of erring on the side of assumption considering that some of these side effects are rather serious.