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What Are Drug Interactions?

When a medication works right, it boosts your health or helps you feel better. But a drug can bring on problems if it doesn’t mix well with something else you put into your body, like another medication, a certain food, or alcohol.

When that happens, it’s called a drug interaction. It could make your medication stop working, become less effective, or too strong. It could also trigger side effects.

The more you learn about drug interactions, the better you’ll be able to avoid them. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are the 3 Types of Drug Interactions?

The main types are:

Drug-drug interaction. This is when a medication reacts with one or more other drugs. For example, taking a cough medicine (antitussive) and a drug to help you sleep (sedative) could cause the two medications to affect each other.

Drug-food/drink interaction. This is when something you eat or drink affects a drug. For instance, it can be dangerous to drink alcohol while you’re on certain medications. Some vitamins and dietary supplements interact with medicines, too.

Drug-condition interaction. This is when you have a health problem that makes it risky for you to take certain meds. For example, if you have a condition like high blood pressure, taking a decongestant for a cold could drive up your blood pressure even more.