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October 27

Tips for Using your Medications Safely

Using medicines safely

Whatever medicines you are taking is for a purpose (or at least I hope so), to help alleviate a symptom or treat a condition. It is important, that while you reap the benefits of the medicines, you avoid preventable harm. I will be outlining, tips and things to look out for to ensure you get the maximum benefits from your medications, while minimizing any harmful effects.

When a new drug is prescribed…

  • Let your doctor know if you are allergic to any drugs, pregnant or plan to get pregnant, breast feeding, or have any other health condition other than the one he is treating you for.
  • Let your doctor know what other medicines you are already on, both prescription and over the counter medications i.e. those you buy without a prescription (I advice you put all your medicines in a bag and take along with you or better still get a pharmacist to prepare you a Personal Medication List (PML), it is much lighter to carry a sheet of paper wink)
  • Ask the following questions:

    • The name and dose of the drug, what it is used for. If you need to write it down, do so.
    • How many times a day you would be taking it, get this very clearly.
    • When should you stop taking the medicine(s)?
    • If you forget to use the medication, what should you do?
    • What side effects to expect from using the medication?
    • Is there any concern about taking the medicine before a surgery or medical or dental procedure?

When you go to fill your prescription at the pharmacy…

  • Confirm how to use the medication, to ensure it tallies with what your doctor told you. If it doesn’t, mention this to your pharmacist.
  • Let your pharmacist know what other medications you are using, to determine if your new medicine would interact with any of them?
  • Ask for expected side effects.
  • Ask if the drug should be taken with food or an empty stomach.
  • Find out if there are any foods or drinks you shouldn’t take with the medicine.
  • Ask how the medication should be stored.
  • Check for the expiry date

When you get home…

  • Use the drug exactly as prescribed, the right amount, at the right time, via the right route, and whatever other instructions you were given as regards food and drinks.
  • Read the package insert that comes with your medication. Review possible, warnings and precautions .
  • Do not break, chew, or crush the medication, except you were instructed to do so.
  • It is best to use your medications with cold or room temperature water. Avoid using hot water, as it could destroy the film coating of some tablets.
  • After swallowing the tablet, drink more water. Do not just sip enough to swallow the drug, drink at least a glass of water with the drug. Not drinking enough water with some medicines can prevent them from working properly and can cause throat irritation.
  • Do not take medications with drinks that contain alcohol.
  • Store your medications as instructed.
  • Keep an eye on the expiry date, so you know when to get rid of it.
  • Watch out for any serious side effects, your doctor or pharmacist might have pointed out, and make sure you report to the doctor immediately you notice any. (Note: not all side effects would require reporting to the hospital, those that require immediate attention, should be pointed out to you.)
  • To help you stay on track, and use your medicines at the right time, consider using a pill organizer that separates your medicines into days of the week and times of the day. You can get one from your local pharmacy.

 

Click here Medication Safety List to download a PDF version of this list. You can take it along with you for your next doctor’s appointment or trip to the pharmacy, so you can go through the list and ask all the necessary questions before leaving.

If you need further help, with ensuring your medication safety, consult with one our pharmacist today!  Contact us here

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