Can I have my glass of milk?

If I’d known I was going to live so long, I’d have taken better care of myself. -Leon Eldred

“I have to go back to the hospital for another check up;I think the infection is still there”, Mrs B says. I ask the usual questions like, “Did you follow the strict timing I emphasized?”, “Did you complete the dosage?”, “Did you skip a dose?”. Mrs B says she followed all the instructions I gave her. It turned out that she forgot I asked her not to take her usual glass of milk with this medication. When I finally asked, her face fell and she said, “I totally forgot all about that.”

She is not all alone as studies have revealed that some treatment failures occur due to food-drug interaction. An interaction is a clinical event in which the effects of a drug are affected by the presence of another drug, herbal, food, drink or some chemical agent. These interactions can influence the safety and efficacy of drug therapy as well as potential undesirable and possibly harmful effects.

There is a greater risk of food-drug interactions in older patients and this can affect the absorption of drugs which can either lead to treatment failure or some beneficial effects. The absorption of some antibiotics like tetracycline, doxycycline and ciprofloxacin when taken with Calcium rich foods(milk, yogurt, cheese) can be delayed or prevented. This is because Calcium binds to the drugs to form an insoluble compound in the stomach which decreases absorption thereby affecting treatment outcome.

Mrs B was taking doxycycline antibiotic with a glass of milk through out the course of the antibiotics which caused treatment failure. While milk may be a nutritious beverage, it isn’t a good idea to drink it when you take some antibiotics and iron supplements.

Next time you ask for that glass of milk be sure you are not taking drugs that will interact with it!