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The effects of side effects

By Mary Pettigrew

If you think about it, most anything we ingest or even apply topically can cause unexpected reactions, allergies, or other side effects. Whether it be certain foods, beverages, vitamins, supplements, toiletries, skin care products and of course, prescription or over-the-counter drugs, side effects are a possibility and should not be taken lightly. Sometimes when reactions or side effects occur, they could be tolerable or temporary, especially when first starting a new medication. This is not the case for all of us. 

We are all different in our DNA and overall health makeup, so this issue can often be puzzling and challenging for the average person to understand. What one person may tolerate perfectly well could turn out to be the opposite for another – even dangerous or hazardous. This is why it’s extremely important to communicate with your doctors. Make sure they are aware of anything and everything you are taking – include the dosage and any problems (new or old) you may be experiencing. 

It seems to me that people rarely talk about the importance of timing in regards to what we consume and the reasons why we should pay close attention as to how our food, meds, and other supplements react if not consumed correctly. It may seem odd and can be a bit challenging, but timing and scheduling has a lot to do with how our bodies will absorb, digest, and support the nutrients and medications we need for our health and overall quality of life. Another example of timing pertains to understanding when and how you should consume certain items. 

There are some medications or supplements that can safely be taken all at once, yet there are others that require a different protocol. Some medications and supplements might need to be spread out over a certain period of time. Some can be taken with food while others must be taken on an empty stomach. The time of day might be an important factor too – morning, noon, or at bedtime. Sometimes it’s a challenge to adhere to a schedule, but it’s worth a try.

I’ve had to learn a few of these things the hard way over the past few years. Always remember, there are certain drugs, supplements (prescription or OTC), and foods that can interfere or interact negatively based on the formulary or timing as to when we ingest them. Here are a couple of my own experiences I’ve gone through. 

I take Prilosec every morning because of acid reflux. A couple years ago, my neurologist was reviewing my lab work, and she noticed my B-12 levels were extremely low, so she informed me that the antacids can negate the proper absorption of B-12 unless taken as sublingual drops. I wish I would’ve been told about this years ago, but at least I now know, and all is good.

I also have challenging issues with irritable bowel syndrome, so per my gastrointestinal specialist, I take two capsules of IBgard (peppermint oil) upon waking. This OTC product seems to help soothe the gut, but timing is important. I must wait 30 minutes after taking the IBgard before taking my Prilosec. If these are taken together, they won’t get absorbed properly and wicked heartburn can result. Let me tell you, it’s not pretty. The same warning applies to those who take iron supplements.

Other issues and side effects can go hand-in-hand with so many things we ingest such as antidepressants, antianxiety meds, MS drugs, allergy meds, and cold and flu meds. In other words, almost anything can cause problems for some people. Remember, some side effects might be uncomfortable at first, but as your body gets used to taking something new, things might settle down and become quite tolerable. Sometimes this is not the case and if and when your quality of life becomes compromised in any form or fashion. It’s time to make a change – whatever that may be. 

It’s important to discuss things with your doctors – make sure to keep them updated as to anything and everything you’re taking. Educate yourself as best as possible and always listen to what your body tells you.