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Health Update

Monday, April 23, 2018

Courtesy of Russell R Van Hemert DC

Medication Safety: Everything You Should Know

There are so many ways to make a mistake when it comes to medications. You could:

  • take the wrong medicine
  • take too much medication
  • mix up your medications
  • combine medications that shouldn’t be combined
  • forget to take a dose of your medication on time

With 82 percent of American adults taking at least one medication and 29 percent taking five or more, medication errors are more common than you may think.

A medication label often contains an overwhelming amount of information, but it’s incredibly important that you spend some time reading it.

When reading a label, you should be looking for a few key pieces of information, including:

  • The name and purpose of the medication. Pay particular attention to medications that contain a combination of multiple drugs.
  • Who the medication is for. You should never take a medication that’s prescribed to someone else, even if you have the exact same illness.
  • The dose. This includes how much to take and how often, as well as what to do if you miss a dose.
  • How the drug is administered. This is to see if it’s swallowed, chewed and then swallowed, rubbed onto the skin, breathed into the lungs, or inserted into the ears, eyes, or rectum, etc.
  • Special instructions. This may be like if the medication should be taken with or without food.
  • How the medicine should be stored. Most medications need to be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, but some need to be put in the refrigerator.
  • The expiration date. Some medications are still safe to use after expiration, but may not be as effective. However, it’s recommended to be safe and not take any expired medications.
  • Side effects. Check for the most common side effects that you may experience.
  • Interactions. Drug interactions may include with other drugs, as well as with food, alcohol, and more.
  • The best advice for medication safety is to read the label and listen to your pharmacist and doctor. Medications are generally safe when used as prescribed or as directed by the label, but errors occur far too often. Contrary to popular belief, your bathroom “medicine cabinet” isn’t the best place to store medications, especially if you have kids.
  • If you or your child get a rash or hives, or start vomiting after taking a medication, stop taking the medication and contact your doctor or pharmacist. If you or your child has trouble breathing after taking a medication, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away. Be sure to also have the toll-free poison control number (1-800-222-1222) programmed into your phone and their website bookmarked for easy access to their online tool.

By Healthline

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