Prescription Medicine Safety

About 40% of the people that use prescription medicines do not use them correctly. There are many things you can do to lower your chances of having problems.

When your doctor prescribes a new medicine, make sure you ask questions about it. Find out why you are taking it, when you should take it, how much you should take, and how long you should take it. Also ask about the side effects you may experience. Medicines can have different side effects such as sleepiness, vomiting, headaches, itching or rashes.

Check the ingredients listed on the bottle and if you know you are allergic to anything in the medicine don’t use it. Have your doctor prescribe a different medicine. If you have a reaction to a new medicine, make sure you contact the doctor or his nurse right away. They will advise you if it is safe to continue taking the medicine or if you should discontinue using it.

Take your medicines safely. Do not take them in the dark because it is too easy to make a mistake. Do not share medicines with relatives or friends. Do not skip taking a dose. Do not take more than the recommended dose without first checking with your doctor.

Read the label on the prescription bottle and check the size, color and shape of the pill when you get a refill. If it looks different, make sure you ask the pharmacist why. It could be the wrong medicine.

If you take a medicine only occasionally, check the bottle for the expiration date. Do not use a medicine after the date on the bottle. Call your doctor for a new prescription so you will get the full benefit of the drug.

It’s important to keep a list of all the prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take regularly. Keep the list with you so you can show it to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. Doctors usually request a list of all the medicines you are taking each time you see them. The list I carry in my purse includes not only the name of the medicine but also the dosage and what time of the day I take it. I also carry a copy of my husband’s medicines in case he becomes ill.

Medicines can help you but to avoid problems make sure you are using them wisely. Ask questions. Read the label. Follow the directions. And keep an up-to-date list of all the medicines you are using.

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