Be Safe when Taking Your Medications

Florida Healthcare Plus wants to keep you (our members) safe, at all times.

These are some tips for you and your loved ones on how to safely take medications.

NEVER crush pills or OPEN capsules – Pills and capsules should always be taken in its original form. Crushing pills or opening capsules make change the strength and absorption of the drug. Many medicines have a coating on the outside. This coating is designed for the following reasons:

  • To protect the medicine from the enzymes of the stomach
  • To protect the stomach from medicines that may cause irritation or pain.

By crushing pills or opening capsules you are removing this coating which can result in the medicine not working as intended.

Some medicines are “time-release” medications which work by releasing small amounts of medications at a time. When “time-release” capsules are crushed, greater than normal amounts of the medicine is released and overdose or serious side effects can occur.

Grapefruit juice is an example of a drink that can cause negative reaction when taken with more than 50 medications, including cholesterol medications. Since the effects of the juice last more than 24 hours in the body, taking the medication at a different time won’t help.

Calcium can interfere with the effectiveness of thyroid medication. Avoid drinking or eating foods rich in calcium such as dairy products (i.e. milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, cottage cheese), vegetables (i.e. black or navy beans, peas, okra, broccoli, celery, kale, mustard greens), and calcium-fortified foods (i.e. orange juice, cereal, apple juice, cereal bars).

Caffeine can cause serious health problems when taken with stimulants. Stimulants are medications that are used to give you energy. Stimulants are also medications that are also used as appetite suppressants (ephedrine), in asthma medications, and amphetamines (such as Adderall).

The potassium which is found in certain drinks and/ or foods such as bananas can be dangerous if taken with some heart failure or hypertension (high blood pressure) medications.

Avoid drinking a glass of wine if you are taking antidepressants; the combination of the wine with this medication can cause hypertension (increase in blood pressure), headaches, fast heart rate, and stroke.

Vitamin K, found in broccoli and kale, should be avoided if you are taking blood thinners such as Coumadin or Warfarin. These foods may not allow the blood thinners to work properly.