The Drugs You Shouldn't Mix Quiz

Estimated Completion Time
4 min
The Drugs You Shouldn't Mix Quiz
Image: Jeffrey Coolidge/Getty Images

About This Quiz

How many pills do you take? More than 1.3 million adults take drugs that shouldn't be mixed. See how savvy you are about avoiding complications at HowStuffWorks.
If you're taking certain antidepressants known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), what can you safely take for a head cold?
brompheniramine
dextromethorphan
ginseng
pseudoephedrine
all of these
none of these
Avoid all of these ingredients and anything that boosts norepinephrine, because this can potentially cause a life-threatening increase in blood pressure when you're taking MAOIs.

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You're taking antihistamines for your seasonal allergies, and you've been prescribed a sedative for a bout of insomnia you're having. What side effect should you be careful of?
excessive drowsiness
Sedatives, such as Valium or Xanax, and meds that contain antihistamines may cause excessive drowsiness.
photosensitivity
sores in the mouth

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Taking which drug while taking a blood thinner such as warfarin increases the risk of bleeding?
ginseng
acetaminophen
NSAID painkillers
all of the above
Warfarin is a blood thinner and shouldn't be mixed with any of these drugs because they increase the risk of bleeding.

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True or false: It's best to let a friend who's been partying with alcohol and Xanax, and is now passed out, to just sleep it off.
TRUE
FALSE
False. Combining alcohol and benzodiazepines is one of the most dangerous drug combinations. Never let anyone "sleep it off," because the risk of not waking up due to respiratory failure is high.

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What is the percent alcohol content in an elixir?
between 4 percent and 5 percent
between 4 percent and 50 percent
between 5 percent and 40 percent
Elixirs, which are hydroalcoholic liquids, have between 5 and 40 percent alcohol content (that's equal to 10 to 80 proof). Nyquil Cough for instance, contains 25 percent; and Dramamine Liquid, 5 percent.
It's illegal for elixirs to contain alcohol.

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Taking antacids, such as Tums, while you take certain antibiotics, such as those taken to treat traveler's diarrhea, may cause what interaction?
signs of serotonin syndrome
slow absorption of the antibiotic
Over-the-counter antacids containing calcium, magnesium or aluminum can slow down how fast your body absorbs certain antibiotics.
weight gain in your upper body

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Is it true antibiotics reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills?
yes
Yes, it's possible that antibiotics could reduce the effectiveness of your birth control pills (and some other types of contraception that contain estrogen). Unwanted pregnancies could occur, so use a backup method.
no

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If a drug has a half-life of 24 hours, how much of the drug will be out of your system after 24 hours?
25 percent
50 percent
Taking medication on a Sunday doesn't mean it's gone from your system on Monday -- or even next Sunday. A drug with a half-life of 24 hours will be half (50 percent) out of your body after 24 hours.
100 percent

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True or false: Combining prescription painkillers and anti-anxiety medications can be fatal.
TRUE
True. One in three people take the risky combination of prescription opioid-derived painkillers such as codeine and prescription anti-anxiety meds or muscle relaxants, such as Percocet. Both are depressants, and accidentally taking too much can lower both your heart rate and breathing rate -- which may be fatal.
FALSE

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What might increase your risk of bleeding problems if you take it while using ginkgo?
alcohol
aspirin
Combining ginkgo and aspirin increases risk of bleeding problems.
ginkgo

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Combining what type of medication with your daily cholesterol-lowering statin may cause a condition called rhabdomyolysis?
antibiotics
antifungals
Combining LDL-lowering simvastatin with certain antifungals may lead to 10 times the amount of statins circulating in your body than intended. This can lead to muscle injury called myopathy, and a severe condition that causes muscle breakdown, called rhabdomyolysis.
acetaminophen

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True or false: More than half of potentially dangerous drug combinations involve nonprescription, over-the-counter medication or dietary supplements.
TRUE
True. More than half of potentially dangerous drug combinations involve nonprescription drugs or dietary supplements.
FALSE

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Your risk of stomach bleeding increases as much as 600 percent when you combine a class of antidepressants known as SSRIs with which over-the-counter pain reliever?
acetaminophen
COS-2 inhibitors
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Combining SSRIs with NSAIDs such as ibuprofen greatly increases the risk of bleeding in the stomach and esophagus.

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Which well-known culinary ingredient and ancient remedy shouldn't be used therapeutically if you use a blood thinner such as warfarin?
garlic
Combining therapeutic levels of garlic with a blood thinner increases the risk of developing bleeding problems.
honey
vitamin D

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Which is not an abbreviation for acetaminophen?
AC
Acetam
APAP
all are abbreviations for acetaminophen
AC, Acetam, and APAP are all abbreviations for acetaminophen. Also look for 'paracetamol', which is what acetaminophen is called outside the U.S.

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True or false: More than half of potential drug interactions involve over-the-counter medications or dietary supplements.
TRUE
It's true that more than 50 percent of potential interactions involve nonprescription drugs and dietary supplements.
FALSE

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Which supplement accounts for the majority of interactions with preventative cardiovascular drugs, such as statins?
CoQ10
omega-3 fish oil
Omega-3 fish oils cause the most interactions with preventative cardiovascular treatments, such as statins.
vitamin B12

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What dangerous condition does the B vitamin niacin cause when combined with blood pressure medications?
arrhythmias
hypertension
hypotension
A dangerous drop in blood pressure may occur when you take blood pressure meds and the B vitamin niacin, which itself has possible natural hypotensive benefits.

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Which anxiety-relieving medication has little to no interaction with grapefruit juice?
Clonazepam
Clonazepam (brand name Klonopin) is not susceptible to interactions with grapefruit juice.
diazepam
midazolam
triazolam

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Why does it matter if certain medications are taken with a glass of grapefruit juice?
The juice changes the half-life of the drug.
The meds become ineffective.
The meds get a boost from the juice.
Grapefruit juice is known to boost the level of certain drugs in your blood system, whether you take you medication with it or not.

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Because some migraine meds increase levels of serotonin, what should you avoid taking them with?
ACE inhibitors
antibiotics
SSRIs
Triptans, used to treat migraines, increase levels of serotonin, and shouldn't be taken with an antidepressant, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), sertraline (Zoloft).

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What two drugs have similar active ingredients?
Benadryl and Ciproxifan
Benadryl and Dramamine
Because they are H1-receptor antagonists (that's antihistamines) with similar active ingredients, combining sneeze-stopping diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl, and motion sickness remedies containing dimenhydrinate, such as Dramamine, can increase your drowsiness.
Dramamine and Zantac

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Is it OK to take calcium supplements when you're using anti-diarrheal medicine containing loperamine, such as Imodium?
Sure, why wouldn't it be.
It's not recommended.
Because calcium supplements firm up your stool, and so do anti-diarrheal meds. The combination can cause constipation and other bowel problems.

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Which potentially toxic drug medley caused a 65 percent increase in hospitalizations between 1999 and 2006?
anticonvulsants, benzodiazepines and melatonin
benzodiazepines, glucophage and NSAIDs
benzodiazepines, narcotic painkillers and sleeping pills
Taking this all-prescription combination of central nervous system depressants -- benzodiazepines (such as Xanax for panic attacks), opioid painkillers (such as oxycodone for a back injury), and sleeping pills (such as Ambien because you're too stressed to sleep) comes with a high risk of respiratory failure and accidental overdose.

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True or false: Taking an over-the-counter stimulant laxative, such as Dulcolax, might make it hard for your body to properly absorb your meds.
TRUE
True. Your body needs time to absorb your medications, but taking stimulant laxatives can make the process go too quickly.
FALSE

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Why shouldn't you take decongestants if you have high blood pressure?
Decongestants cause heart failure.
Decongestants narrow blood vessels.
Decongestants work, in part, because they constrict blood vessels -- which, in turn, can increase your blood pressure.
Decongestants narrow arteries.

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While using the over-the-counter herbal supplement St. John's wort to relieve anxiety and depression symptoms, which cough-suppressing ingredient could cause a potentially deadly condition called serotonin syndrome?
amitriptyline
dextromethorphan
Taking cough medicine with the active ingredient dextromethorphan may increase the amount of serotonin in your body to toxic levels, a condition called serotonin syndrome, when you combine it with St. John's wort.

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Which is not a sign of serotonin syndrome?
heavy sweating
nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
rapid heart rate
twitching muscles
all of these
Too much serotonin in your body can cause a potentially fatal condition called serotonin syndrome, which can range from sweating and vomiting to seizures and muscle rigidity.
none of these

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If you're taking spironolactone, a diuretic known as Aldactone and used to treat heart failure, which antibiotic may increase your potassium levels to potentially deadly levels?
azithromycin
amoxicillin
Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX)
Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX) may cause high potassium levels and may double the risk of sudden death in seniors when taken with spironolactone. High blood potassium levels are linked to irregular heartbeat.

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True or false: Frequently taking NSAIDs, such as aspirin, may cause bleeding ulcers and other stomach problems.
TRUE
True. Taking frequent aspirin or ibuprofen while taking an SSRI (such as Zoloft) is known to increase the risk for stomach bleeding.
FALSE

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