Drugs and Supplements

Taking an anticlotting drug? If you need a procedure, be prepared

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

People who take an anticlotting medication are at higher risk of bleeding if they need an invasive procedure, but stopping the drug ahead of a procedure carries its own risks.

Genetic testing to predict medication side effects

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Genetic testing may help identify when certain people may be at risk of having an adverse reaction to medication. Researchers hope that such testing will eventually be lead to the ability to recommend the most effective medication that has the fewest side effects for a specific person’s condition.

When a drug does serious harm, the FDA wants to hear from you

Joshua Gagne, PharmD, ScD

If you’ve had a reaction or other issue with a medication, the Food and Drug Administration wants to know about it. The FDA provides tools for health professionals and consumers to report adverse reactions to drugs and medical devices.

Is the “full course of antibiotics” full of baloney?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

Conventional medical wisdom has held that taking antibiotics for longer periods of time produces better results and lowers the risk for antibiotic resistance. But the evidence for this is slim, and researchers are now questioning this approach.

Is it safe to take ibuprofen for the aches and pains of exercise?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

A study of endurance athletes who took ibuprofen during marathon running raises questions about the wisdom of ibuprofen during exercise, and in addition that people with kidney disease may want to exercise caution when taking these medications.

Vitamin D: Finding a balance

Emily S. Ruiz, MD, MPH
Emily S. Ruiz, MD, MPH, Contributor

The best way to get the vitamin D your body needs is through sun exposure, but since many people are now more vigilant about sun protection, eating foods rich in the vitamin is preferable to taking a supplement. It’s also important to be aware that too much vitamin D can be harmful.

Most cases of pink eye (conjunctivitis) don’t require antibiotics

Mallika Marshall, MD
Mallika Marshall, MD, Contributing Editor

While bacterial conjunctivitis responds to antibiotic treatment, many people with the more common viral type are prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily, which contributes to increased resistance to these medications.

Think your child has a penicillin allergy? Maybe not.

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Because diagnosis of drug allergies is often done based on symptoms but without testing, many people who believe they are allergic to antibiotics such as penicillin do not in fact have the allergy.

4 ways to avoid mistakes with liquid medicines

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Giving the proper dosage of a liquid medication can be confusing, and parents can accidentally give an incorrect dose if they are tired or distracted. These tips will help you give the right dose every time.

A spoonful of motivation helps the medicine go down

David R. Topor, PhD, MS-HPEd

Sticking to a medication regimen is challenging, and one of the biggest hurdles is staying motivated. Linking proper use of a drug to one’s broader life goals can help make it easier to take regularly.