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Senior Safety: Common Food & Drug Interactions

According to a recent study, roughly 50 percent of all American seniors take upward of five different drugs daily. Although these are often necessary for preventing or controlling disease and improving quality of life, they can also present many hazards. One of the most overlooked hazards with prescription drugs is everyday foods. To ensure the safety of your aging parent or loved one, Home Care Assistance of Albuquerque, NM shares some of the most common food and drug interactions that seniors should be aware of.

  • Citrus – A few varieties of citrus fruits, including grapefruit, pommelo and seville and valencia oranges, can interact poorly with a handful of drugs. They can render statins ineffective and interfere with blood pressure medications. More alarmingly, when combined with muscle relaxers or opioid painkillers, these fruits can prevent the drugs from breaking down properly, resulting in dangerously high blood concentrations and possible overdose.
  • Leafy Greens – Spinach, kale and other leafy greens pack a nutritional punch. However, if you’re taking blood thinners, they can do more harm than good. The vitamin K in greens is known to interfere with the effectiveness of drugs like warfarin, so talk to your loved one’s doctor before using them in a loved one’s diet.
  • Tyramine – Tyramine is an amino acid commonly found in beer, cheese, chocolate, fermented foods, aged or processed meats, and some fish. These foods should never be consumed in combination with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or drugs for Parkinson’s Disease. Doing so can result in a hypertensive crisis, which is potentially fatal. Do you provide Parkinson’s care for a senior loved one? Click here to learn more about reliable help from professional Parkinson’s caregivers in Albuquerque.
  • Licorice – Glycyrrhiza, a substance that gives natural black licorice its distinctive flavor, can cause dangerous interactions when taken with digoxin (digitalis). It does this by depleting the body of potassium and elevating sodium, causing digoxin’s effects to be significantly enhanced. When this happens, the heart cannot beat properly and heart failure may result.

For many seniors, prescription medications drastically improve health and well-being. Unfortunately, in many cases, taking these life-supporting medicines requires strict adherence to special diets and careful scrutiny of food labels. If you’re unsure whether a particular food may cause drug interactions, it’s important to talk to your aging parent or loved one’s doctor for more information.

If your aging parent or loved one needs help with nutritious meal preparation, eating throughout the day or with medication reminders, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Albuquerque. Along with helping with these activities, our highly trained and compassionate live-in and hourly Albuquerque caregivers can help with personal care, transportation, mobility and so much more. Call 505-798-0800 to speak with a friendly Care Manager and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.