Precautions to take medicines safely

Precautions to take medicines safely- What should I do when I am taking medicines?

Read all of the labels and the inserts that come with your medicines. Review the information often.

  • Talk with your pharmacist if you notice a change in the size, color, or shape of your medicines.
  • Try to get all of your medicines at one pharmacy. The pharmacist will have all your information and will understand possible drug interactions.
  • Ask your health care provider any questions that you have about your prescribed medicines and any over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal or dietary supplements that you take. It is important to make sure that nothing will interact with any of your prescribed medicines.

What should I know about my medicines?

  • Know the potential side effects for each medicine that you take.
  • Know what each of your medicines looks like. This includes size, color, and shape.
    • If you are getting confused and having trouble recognizing your different medicines, ask your health care provider or pharmacist about changing your medicines or helping you to identify them more easily.

How can I take my medicines safely?

  • Take medicines only as directed by your health care provider.
    • Do nottake more of your medicine than instructed.
    • Do nottake anyone else’s medicines.
    • Do notshare your medicines with other people.
    • Do notstop taking your medicines unless you have talked about that with your health care provider.
    • You may need to avoid alcohol or certain foods or liquids with one or more of your medicines. Follow your health care provider’s instructions.
  • Do notsplit, mash, or chew your medicines unless your health care provider tells you to do so. Tell your health care provider if you have trouble swallowing your medicines.
  • For every liquid medicine, use the dosing container that was provided.

How should I organized my medicines?

  • Use a tool, such as a weekly pillbox, a written chart from your health care provider, a notebook, or your own calendar to organize your medicine schedule.
  • If you have trouble recognizing your different medicines, keep them in their original bottles.
  • Create reminders for taking your medicines. Use sticky notes, or use alarms on your watch, mobile device, or phone calendar.
  • Your organization system should help you to remember the following information about each medicine:
    • Name of the medicine.
    • Dosage.
    • Schedule. This includes the day and time when it should be taken.
    • Appearance. This includes color, shape, size, and stamp.
    • How to take your medicines. You may need to take them with or without certain foods, on an empty stomach, with fluids, or by following some other instruction.
  • More advanced medicine management systems are also available. These offer weekly or monthly options that are complete with storage, alarms, and visual and audio prompts.
  • Review your medicine schedule with a family member, friend, or caregiver. Other household members should understand your medicines.
  • If you have trouble reading the names of your different medicines, ask your pharmacist to provide your medicines in containers with large print.
  • If you take any medicines on an “as needed” basis, such as medicines for nausea or pain, it is important that you remember what you have taken and when you did so. Write down the following information each time you take an “as needed” medicine: the name, the dosage, and the date and time that you took it.

How should I plan ahead for travel?

  • Take your pillbox, medicines, and organization system with you when you travel.
  • Have your medicines refilled before you leave for travel. This will ensure that you do not run out of your medicines while you are away from home.
  • Always carry an updated list of your medicines with you. If there is an emergency, a respondent can quickly see what medicines you are taking.

How should I store and discard my medicines?

  • Store medicines in a cool, dry area away from light or as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider. The bathroom is not a good place for medicine storage because of heat and humidity.
  • Store your medicines away from chemicals, medicines for your pet, and medicines of other household members.
  • Keep medicines where children cannot reach them. Do notleave them on counters or bedside tables. Store them in high cabinets or on high shelves.
  • Check expiration dates regularly. Do nottake expired medicines. Discard medicines that are older than the expiration date.
  • Learn about the best way to dispose of each medicine that you take. Find out if your local government recycling program, hospital, or pharmacy has a medicine take-back program for safe disposal. If not, some medicines may be mixed with inedible substances and thrown away in the trash in a sealed bag or empty container.

What should I remember?

  • Tell your health care provider if you experience side effects, you have new symptoms, or you have other concerns. There may be dosing changes or alternative medicines that would be better for you.
  • Review your medicines regularly with your health care provider. Ask if you need to continue to take each medicine, and discuss how well each one is working. Medicines, diet, medical conditions, weight changes, and other habits can all affect how medicines work.
  • Refill your medicines early so that you do not risk running out.
  • In case of an accidental overdose, call your local Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or visit your local emergency department immediately. This is important.

What should I know about giving medicines to my child?

  • Use positive reinforcement to help your child take necessary medicines. Try singing, cuddling, and rewards.
  • Use only the syringes, droppers, dosing spoons, or dosing cups from your child’s health care provider or pharmacist.
  • Always wash your hands before giving medicines.
  • Learn about the medicine policies at your child’s school.
    • Meet with the school nurse to review your child’s medicine schedule in detail.
    • Do notsend oral medicines to school with your child.
  • If your child has trouble taking medicine, forgets a dose, or spits it up, talk with his or her health care provider.
  • Do notgive over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to your child who is younger than 2 years old, unless directed by his or her health care provider.
  • Do notgive your child aspirin unless instructed to do so by your child’s pediatrician or cardiologist.
  • Make sure that your child knows how to use an inhaler properly, if needed.
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