Drugs Q & A

Can You Take Medicine With Milk?

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, more than 6 billion people worldwide consume milk and milk products. Milk is a good source of many essential nutrients, including calcium, protein, and vitamin D. Many people see it as a vital part of a balanced diet.

Historically, medical and recipe books in the seventeenth century recommended human milk as a cure for pain, and hysteria. During childbirth, women drank milk from another mother to speed delivery. Breast milk was recommended especially for eye problems, from soreness to blindness.

What is the interaction of food and drug?

A food-drug interaction means that a specific nutrient or compound within the food such as milk  changes the way your body metabolizes the medication, and this can either enhance or reduce the dose your body gets, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Foods can also prevent medicine from working the way it should and can cause medicinal side effects to become better or worse and/or cause new side effects to occur. Drugs can also change the way the body uses food.

Can You Take Medicine With Milk

How milk affects your medications

Studies have shown that dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese can delay or prevent the absorption of antibiotics such as tetracyclines and ciprofloxacin. Chelation interactions have been reported to occur in between 22 and 76% of patients prescribed fluoroquinolones.

This occurs because the calcium in such foods binds to the antibiotics in the stomach and upper small intestine to form an insoluble compound. For example, milk and other dairy products, ingested simultaneously with tetracycline derivatives, might interfere with their absorption by 50 to 90% or even more.

Milk also interferes with the absorption of propranolol, mercaptopurine (reduce bioavailability), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, digitalis, amiloride, omeprazole, spironolactone and ranitidine.

How can you take antibiotics safely?

Be safe with medicine. Take your antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of medicine. This will help make sure your infection is cured. It will also help prevent the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Always take the exact amount that the label says to take. If the label says to take the medicine at a certain time, follow those directions.

You might feel better after you take an antibiotic for a few days. But it is important to keep taking it for as long as prescribed. That will help you get rid of those bacteria that are a bit stronger and that survive the first few days of treatment.

When to ask for help

Talk with your doctor if you develop any side effects or allergic reactions while taking an antibiotic.

In children, reactions from antibiotics are the most common cause of medication-related emergency department visits. 

Common side effects range from minor to very severe health problems and can include:

  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Yeast infections

If you need antibiotics, the benefits usually outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance. But antibiotics aren’t always the answer when you’re sick. Sometimes, the best treatment when you’re sick may be over-the-counter medication. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for tips on how to feel better while your body fights off an infection.

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