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Your Life, Your Health: Grapefruit juice and medication

Updated: Friday, January 24 2014, 12:57 AM EST
If you’re taking a prescription drug, did you ever think a glass of grapefruit juice would be dangerous? If you’re taking medication to treat a heart condition, like high cholesterol, it is. And it’s an example of several risky drug interactions you may not be aware of.

Grapefruit juice increases the levels of medicine in your blood. So drugs like Crestore, Pravachol, and Lipitor stay in your body longer which can result in severe side effects.

“You drink grapefruit juice and the Lipitor stays in your body.” George Fredricks, Pharmacy Operations Manager at Samaritan Hospital in Troy explains. “You take it the next day with grapefruit juice and it stays in the body longer. And then the next day .. it is going to keep staying in the body.”

As the level of medicine in your blood continues to rise it breakdowns muscle which can result in kidney failure.

If you’re on antibiotics be aware of vitamins you’re taking – some can counteract the drug. For example, taking a calcium, iron, or magnesium vitamin each day negates the benefit of the drug.  Fredricks says the same goes for birth control.

“Certain antibiotics will cancel out oral contraceptives and that is something you don’t want to run into.” He says.

Sudafed treats stuffy noses and sinuses but if you’re looking to get a good night’s sleep choose another drug.

“… someone who has insomnia, they’re going to stay awake. Even someone who doesn’t have insomnia. It is part of what the drug does.”

Fredricks says always be aware of all prescription and over-the-counter drugs you’re taking. There’s the chance mixing medications can make another drug stronger, weaker or completely cancel out a drug’s effect all together.
Your Life, Your Health: Grapefruit juice and medication

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