Guide to Taking Prescription Medications img

Your Guide to Taking Prescription Medication

One of the reasons prescription medication can be lethal or ineffective is that patients do not use it as prescribed. There are several reasons for this problem. Either the doctor misdiagnosed the problem, prescribed the wrong medication, or gave the wrong directions to the patient. 

Or it could be that the patient did not follow the directions prescribed by the doctor. It is vital to your health and well-being that you take medicine as it was intended for your condition. Do you need a few tips? Below is a quick guide to taking prescription medication. 

Ask Lots of Questions

When it comes to taking medication, your health and safety are at risk. So, do not hesitate to ask questions. The more you find out about the medication, you more you understand its function and importance in your health condition. You can also keep from making errors that can lead to an overdose. 

What are some questions you can ask about your medication? Here are a few.

  • How do you pronounce the medication again?
  • What is the active ingredient?
  • Why am I taking this medicine?
  • How much do I take, and when should I take it?
  • When does the medication expire?
  • Are there any side effects or special warnings?
  • What should I do if I start having side effects?

These crucial questions can help you get the most out of your medicine while helping you identify problems if anything goes wrong.

Keep an Updated List of Past and Current Medicines

There are many online resources and apps that can help you keep track of your medications. Utilizing these tools can help you manage your medications and provide you with a format, so you know what to include.

Phone apps can set reminders for when you need to take your next dose or if you have a doctor’s appointment coming up. Your medication list should include the following items:

  • Allergies and reactions
  • Doctors, dentists and other prescribers’ names and numbers
  • Pharmacy name and phone number
  • Medication name (brand and generic)
  • Dosage
  • Doctor’s instructions for use*
  • Reason for taking the medication
  • Date started
  • Date stopped
  • The doctor who prescribed the medicine

For the most current information, update your list every time you visit a doctor or the pharmacy. Since emergencies can strike at any time, keeping a copy of your medication list with you is crucial. Carry a hard copy of your information in your purse or wallet.

It is also important to have your current list available to your physicians, friends, and family. Have an “in case of emergency” (ICE) contact who has your medication list because that will be the first person the hospital contacts.

Follow the Directions As Prescribed by the Pharmacy

Your medicine may not work if you don’t follow the directions. Taking too much or too little can make you sick or cause severe health problems. So, use the medicine as prescribed by your pharmacy.

  • Read the directions on the label and ask your healthcare provider how much you should take and when.
  • Never skip taking your prescription medicine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you stop taking your medicines.
  • Only take the suggested dose.

Make sure you check the expiration date on your prescription. It may not be safe to use once it expires.

Safely Discard Your Medicines

When there is a high risk of accidental poisoning, overdose or diversion, it is better to dispose of unused medications than to keep them.

The best disposal option is using a local medication take-back program operated by local law enforcement agencies. You also can contact your local waste management authority to learn about medication disposal options and guidelines for your area.

The FDA also maintains a list of medications that can be flushed if a take-back center is not available.

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