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article imageTen tips for handling prescription medications safely

By Tim Sandle     Jan 24, 2017 in Health
There have been several stories reported on in the past few years about the risks associated with prescription medications, especially around misuse and overuse. A leading medic has provided Digital Journal with some important advice.
Prescription medicines are generally prescribed to make people feel better. However, some medications carry side-effects and these need to be understood. In addition, some people do not take their medications correctly (and on rare occasions the prescribing advice is incorrect). A third concern is when people become addicted to the medication and start to take it for reasons of dependency rather than for any underlying health issue. With this latter point, opioids are a case in point.
A recent U.S. National Institute of Health study has reported that 40 percent of seniors are typically taking five or more prescription medications each day. Worryingly, the survey found that up to 55 percent of seniors are taking the medications incorrectly.
Raising this subject, Dr. Kurt Kazanowski, who is a practicing medic and author of the book “A Son’s Journey: Taking Care of Mom and Dad”, has provided readers of Digital Journal with ten tips centered on taking medicines correctly. The aim is to avoid serious complications and interactions.
The tips are:
1. Storing medications
It is important to hold medications in a cool dry place (and not in direct sunlight, such as on a window ledge). This helps maintain the potency of the active ingredient.
2. Taking too much
Never take more of the medication each day than is advised. Overdoses are a major cause of medication fatalities and this is a common medication error. Signs of prescription overdose include: over-sedation, mood swings and running out of medication early.
3. Confusing one medication with another
Taking the wrong medication can be a common error. This is not helped by many medications having similar names. As an example: Zantac for heartburn and Zyrtec for allergies. To assist, a daily pill-minder can be helpful.
4. Medicine interactions
Some medications were never meant to be taken in combination. It is important that a medical practitioner knows of all other medication being taken before medicine is prescribed.
5. Food and drug interactions
Some medication should be taken with food and some without food. Care must be taken with this since some foods interact with drugs. For instance anticoagulants like blood-thinning statins can be rendered ineffective when a patient eats foods high in vitamin K. One of the most risky foodstuff sis grapefruit juice, which can cause potentially dangerous interactions with many medications.
6. Wrong route of administration
One source of medication errors is the wrong route of administration. As an example, swallowing a tablet that was intended to be absorbed onto the tongue.
7. Mixing alcohol with medications
There are several drugs that come with a warning indicating that alcohol should not be drunk when the medication is taken.
8. Double-dosing.
This can occur when a brand-name medication and the generic are taken together. People can sometimes get confused between the two.
9. Taking prescription drugs and over-the-counter or alternative medications without knowing how they interact
Often two drugs do not react well together. Medical advice should always be sought before taking an over-the-counter drug when taking prescribed medicines.
10. Old medications
Once a doctor tells someone to stop taking a medication, any remaining medicines should be discarded and never taken in the future without seeking further medical advice. In addition, medicines should never be used passed their expiry date.
More about Medication, Drugs, Prescription drugs, Elderly
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