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Use these tips to get the most from your medicine

by , 31 July 2013

Fact: Whether obtained by prescription or over the counter (OTC), no medicine is without risk. The truth is while medicine is meant to make you feel better, it may also cause side effects or allergic reactions as a result of interactions with foods, drinks or other drugs. But, you can get the benefits of medicine without the health risks if you follow these simple tips.

It’s crucial that you know how to take your medicine with care. If you overlook this, you won’t get the full benefits your medication has to offer. And you could even put your life in danger…

Here’s how you can help your medicines work as safely and effectively as possible

According to How to Fight Heart Disease and Win, for prescription drugs, your first step to safe and effective treatment is to ask your doctor questions with each new prescription.

Here are some examples of the questions you need to ask:

  • “What is the medicine’s name?” “What is it supposed to do?”
  • “How and when do I take it, and for how long?”
  • “While taking this medicine, are there any things (certain foods or dietary supplements, caffeine, alcohol, or other beverages; other medicines, prescription or OTC, or certain activities, such as driving or smoking) that I should avoid?”
  • “Will this new medicine work safely with prescription and OTC medicines I’m already taking?”
  • “Are there side effects, and what do I do if they occur?”
  • “Will the medicine affect my sleep or activity level?”
  • “What should I do if I miss a dose?”
  • “Where can I find written information about the medicine?” (At the very least, ask the doctor or pharmacist to write out explicit directions and to provide the technical name for any medicines prescribed.)

Make sure you write down the answers to these questions immediately to ensure you’ll remember all the details.

Over and above this, there’s more you can do to take your medicine safely:

  • Keep a record of all your current medicines, including their names and regimens (dosages, times, and other instructions for taking them). Write down any problems you have with the medicine and discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Using adequate light, read labels carefully before taking any medicines.
  • Ask your doctor’s or pharmacist’s advice before crushing or splitting tablets; some should only be swallowed whole.
  • Contact your doctor or pharmacist if new or unexpected symptoms or other problems appear.
  • Never stop taking medicine your doctor has told you to finish just because symptoms disappear.
  • Ask the doctor periodically to reevaluate long-term treatments.
  • If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor before using an OTC medicine the first time, especially if you use other medicine.
  • Carefully read OTC-medicine labels for ingredients, proper usage, directions, warnings, precautions and expiration dates. Many medicines contain the same ingredients. Be sure you’re not taking the same drug in more than one form.
  • Discard outdated medicine.
  • Store medicine in the original container, where the label identifies it and gives directions.
  • Never store medicine in the bathroom. Unless instructed otherwise, keep it away from heat, light and moisture.
  • Never store medicine near a dangerous substance, which could be taken by mistake.

There you have it. Using these tips will help you take your medicine safely.

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