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Medication Safety: Tips To Keep You Safe


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 69% of adults aged 40–79 take one or more prescription medications. Approximately 23% take 5 or more medications. Taking multiple medications can be confusing. Here are some tips to keep you safe.

1. Know the medications you take.

Understanding the reason for taking a medication is important. This prevents duplication of therapy and can reduce drug interactions.

Know the dosage, frequency, and time of day you take the medication. Some medications interact when taken together. Taking them at separate times of the day can ensure you get the maximum benefit from the medicines you take.

Keep a list that includes the name, dosage, and frequency you take the medication. Include any vitamins, herbal supplements, or over-the-counter medications. Keep this list in your purse or wallet so you have it when you need it.

2. Use a pill box.

Many medications require multiple daily dosing and have complex dosing regimens. In addition, the more medications you take the harder it is to keep track.

To prevent missing or duplicating doses, use a pill box. There are many options available to help manage even the hardest regimens.

It is best to pick one day during the week to “set up” your pill box. By doing this you can look back over the week to see if you missed any doses.

Avoid refilling the container right after you take the medication as this could lead to double dosing.

3. Store your medications in a proper and safe location.

Medications can be affected by sunlight, high temperatures, and changes in humidity. Therefore, you should store your medications in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight.

The frequent temperature and humidity changes in bathrooms make them bad locations to store medications. A safe location in the kitchen, closet, or bedroom are ideal locations.

Keep your medications out of reach of children and pets. This can prevent accidental ingestions and unwanted complications. Keep unused medication in child-proof containers in places children can not reach.

4. Talk to your pharmacist and doctor.

It is important to discuss any new medications, vitamins, or supplements with a healthcare professional. This can prevent interactions and ensure effective treatment of your health conditions.

If you are having trouble taking your medication as prescribed for whatever reason (cost, side effects). They may be able to prescribe a different medication, provide a generic, or help you enroll in an assistance program.

5. Take your medications as prescribed.

If you are having trouble taking your medication as prescribed for whatever reason (cost, side effects). They may be able to prescribe a different medication, provide a generic, or help you enroll in an assistance program.

To work properly, medications have to develop effective levels in the body. Skipping doses can alter these levels and reduce the effectiveness of your medication.

Stopping antibiotics once you feel better can lead to inadequately treated infections. This can lead to resistant bacteria and reoccurrence of the infection.

Conclusion

Whether you take one or five medications, practicing safe habits is essential to ensure the safe use of medications. Discussing your medications with a healthcare professional can ensure you understand why you are taking a medication. It can also prevent duplications in therapy and drug-drug interactions.

Key takeaways

Always discuss new medications with your doctor or pharmacist.

Using a pill box can help organize your medications and prevent you from forgetting doses.

Store medications in a safe location away from direct sunlight and high humidity areas (ie. bathroom).

Keep a list of your medications in your purse or wallet.

Always take medications as prescribed.

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prescription Drug Use Among Adults Aged 40–79 in the United States and Canada.

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