A sip of water, a big gulp of pop or pill buried in a piece of cake – there’s more than one way to take your medicine.
But when it comes to swallowing tablets, certain drinks and foodstuffs can cause serious problems due to the way they react with the drugs.
Here are the ones to AVOID if you want to dodge some pretty nasty side effects:
Whether in fresh or juice form, grapefruit can be bad news for medication.
This is because it contains a group of chemicals called furanocoumarins that inhibit the time the body takes to break down a drug.
They stop certain enzymes from working which can lead to more of the active drug being absorbed into the body than the intended dose.
Other citrus fruits including limes and Seville oranges are also thought to have the same effect.
Medications affected include Amiodarone, which is used to treat irregular heartbeats.
It’s also best to avoid if you are taking medications like Lipitor which is used to treat elevated levels of cholesterol, or those containing simvastatin.
Mature cheese & meat
Tyramine is an amino acid that helps regulate blood pressure. It is found particularly in food that has been aged or fermented, such as Camembert and Gouda cheese as well as smoked or aged meats like salami and pastrami.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) drugs, prescribed for conditions such as depression and chemotherapy, reduce the body’s ability to process tyramine.
That puts you at risk of side effects including a severe increase in blood pressure, chest pain and rapid heartbeat.
Avoid if you’re taking the antibiotic linezolid.
Beverages such as Coca-Cola, 7-up and Fanta are injected with carbon dioxide to make them fizz. This process forms acids and it is these than can pose a danger when taking pills.
The acids damage the coating of some tablets that is specifically designed to regulate their content’s release inside the stomach.
This means it may happen before they reach their target and therefore be less effective.
Best avoided with any medication for obvious reasons, but particularly if you are taking antihistamines or painkillers such as morphine and codeine.
It can also have an adverse impact if consumed with diabetes and HIV/Aids medication.
The reaction between alcohol and these medications can be toxic, but it can also alter the effect of the drug and increase any side effects.
Milk and yoghurt
The calcium in milk can make some antibiotics, such as tetracycline which treats cholera, acne and malaria, inactive. It can also effect antibiotics containing ciprofloxacin and doxycycline.
It is recommended these medicines should be taken two hours before or six hours after eating foods high in calcium, such as yoghurt, cream and cheese.
There is also evidence that if you take non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with milk it can lead to an upset stomach.
Tea & coffee
The high levels of caffeine in these popular hot drinks pose a risk if taken with antipsychotic medication prescribed for conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
They can increase the levels in the blood, making patients more likely to suffer greater side effects.
Asthma suffers should also be cautious. Caffeine can decrease the effect of bronchodilators that are used in emergency cases.
Considered by many to be a ‘super food’, kale has many health benefits to justify its billing. But it is also packed with vitamin K and that can play havoc with anticoagulants that are used to thin the blood.
They are often given to recovering heart attack victims and those with irregular heartbeats to reduce the chances of blood clots forming.
Kale, along with other leafy green vegetables such as spinach and romaine lettuce, can reverse the effects of blood thinning medication such as warfarin, increasing blood clotting.
Experts advise you don’t have to avoid eating these foods entirely if you’re on warfarin – just don’t gorge on it.
Peter Batty, of Med-Easy, a swallowing aid designed to help those who experience difficulty taking medication, said: “Quite often when you experience anxiety or physical difficulties around taking medication, it can be tempting to either crush them or hide them in food.
“But you should always read the patient information leaflet enclosed with any medication. Unless it states that it’s safe to crush tablets or mix them with foods, then don’t.”
Difficulty swallowing is known by the medical term dysphagia and can be common in the over 60s, people suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer, and children transitioning from infant liquid medication to solid dose tablets or capsules.
Patients on medication that causes a dry mouth can also be afflicted.
Med-Easy can be used with medical pills, tablets and liquid-filled capsules, as well as vitamin preparations and food supplements.
It is suitable for anyone over the age of two who can swallow independently.