Medicines, both prescription and over the counter, help us live longer and healthier lives. But, taking them the wrong way or mixing certain drugs together can be dangerous. So, here are medication management tips to help you keep track of your medicines and use them safely.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) points out the importance of discussing any new medications with your doctor and/or other healthcare providers. Review your allergies and share any problems you’ve had with medications in the past. It’s possible you’ll need to modify the use of current medications when a new one is added to your routine. The purpose: to avoid any “unpleasant and sometimes serious problems” that can occur when mixing certain drugs together.
When a new medication is being added, ask your doctor to tell you its name and why you need to take it. Make sure you’re clear about how often you should take it, how much and when. Should you eat with it? Can you drive with it? How soon should it start to work? If you forget to take a dose, what should you do? What side effects can occur? What should you do if they do occur?
The article recommends you fill all your prescriptions at one pharmacy, so your records are all in one place. Your pharmacist should be able to answer many (but not necessarily all) questions about your medications.
Read all labels and always make sure you’re taking the right amount. Some people take half doses of medications to make them last longer, while others take a larger dosage thinking that will help even more. Neither of these are appropriate actions.
To make sure you take your medications on time, you can create charts, mark your calendar or buy weekly pill boxes. Use whatever system works best for you! Turn on a light whenever you’re taking medications to make sure you’re taking the right ones.
Additional Medication Management Tips to Stay Safe
Other safety tips include not drinking alcohol with medications, and to avoid sharing your medications with someone else or taking someone else’s medicines yourself. Check before stopping a medication early and let your doctor know of any problems you’re experiencing with them. The article by NIA contains significantly more information than what’s summarized here, so be sure to read it in its entirety.
An article by the Food & Drug Administration also contains useful information, including about over-the-counter medications. They are sometimes used to relieve pain, while others are laxatives, antacids, and cough/cold products. It’s important to let your doctor know which ones you take as they can affect how prescription medicines work in your body.
Additional tips for over-the-counter medications include to read labels carefully and then choose the ones that contain only the ingredients you need. Watch for package tampering and don’t take medications that have expired as they may not be as effective. If you find you’re regularly taking an over-the-counter medication, let your doctor know. Most are intended for short-time usage only.
WebMD offers additional tips to help you manage your medications. If, for example, children aren’t in your home, then you can ask about lids that open more easily; when children visit, make sure these medications are out of their reach. If you regularly have children in your home, ask about child-resistant lids.
You can also request a measuring device for liquid medications, and be sure to also ask how medications should be stored.