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CONTRAINDICATIONS A contraindication is a specific situation in which a drug, procedure, or surgery should not be used because it may be harmful to the person. Did You Know? For doctors, an indication is a symptom or circumstance that makes a particular medical treatment desirable. Serious anxiety, for example, is often an indication for prescribing a tranquilizer. A contraindication, then, is a symptom or condition that makes a treatment risky, such as taking certain other medications at the same time. Drugs and conditions that are contraindicated for a medication are listed on its label, and reeled off at high speed in TV ads. Patients can guard against the dangers of drug interaction by reading labels carefully and making sure their doctors know what else they're currently taking.

There are two types of contraindications: 1.Relative contraindication means that caution should be used when two drugs or procedures are used together. (It is acceptable to do so if the benefits outweigh the risk.) 2.Absolute contraindication means that event or substance could cause a life-threatening situation. A procedure or medicine that falls under this category must be avoided.

Some treatments may cause unwanted or dangerous reactions in people with allergies, high blood pressure, or pregnancy. For example, isotretinoin, a drug used to treat acne is absolutely contraindicated in pregnancy due to the risk of birth defects. Certain decongestants are contraindicated in people with high blood pressure and should be avoided. Many medicines should not be used together by the same person. For instance, a person who takes warfarin to thin the blood should not take aspirin, which is a blood thinner. This is an example of a relative contraindication.

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