Medication Safety; Facts to Know

Medication Safety; Facts to Know

* Taking certain combinations of medications can either cause dangerous side effects or affect the potency of one or more of the drugs.

* If you don’t take drugs correctly-at the right time of day, or with or without food, for example-the medication may not work as well as they should. Follow instructions on the label and from your health care professional.

* A side effect is a recognized effect other than that for which the medication was intended. Even if you do take them correctly and carefully, medications can cause side effects, from minor to serious.

* An adverse reaction is an unpredictable reaction to a drug (many side effects are known to be associated with a drug and are listed on label). An example of a serious adverse reaction is a drug allergy that may cause breathing difficulties, convulsions, high fever or other symptoms of anaphylactic shock, which can lead to death if not treated immediately.

* Some common examples of dangerous drug interactions include anticoagulant medications combined with aspirin; antacids combined with certain drugs for Parkinson’s disease; and antacids combined with some heart disease medications.

* Some of the most common and innocuous drugs can have an adverse effect on an unborn or nursing baby. Be sure to tell your health care professional and pharmacist if you are pregnant, nursing or plan to become pregnant. Also, don’t take any medication, supplement or herbal remedy without first clearing it with your health care professional.

* Some medications can render birth control pills and other hormonal methods of birth control, such as shots and implants, ineffective, requiring the use of another form of birth control. Be sure you know and ask if any prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) you’re taking may have the unwanted “side effect” of an unplanned pregnancy, especially when you’re starting antibiotics.

* Free samples of prescription or OTC medication your health care professional may give you or provide for your child are handy, but they rarely if ever include dosing instructions. It’s easy to forget when you get home if you’re to take two tablets every six hours or one tablet every four hours. Be sure to write down all dosing instructions and tape or staple them to the sample containers. Also be sure to ask about any potential side effects and interactions with any other medications you’re already taking. Share your drug list with your health care professional so he/she is aware of all the medications you use. Also, make sure you tell your physician about any other drugs you’re taking. Because you don’t fill the prescription, there is no opportunity to check via the computer for potential drug interactions as a pharmacist would do.

* Many drugs have very similar sounding or looking names, which can lead to confusion at the pharmacy. Did the health care provider write Prozac or Prilosec? The pharmacist may think she can interpret the handwriting, but the best way to avoid a potentially dangerous guess is to have your health care professional clearly write on the prescription what the drug is being used for. Make sure include the purpose of the medication and correlate it with the physician and pharmacist.

* Drinking grapefruit juice while taking certain medications may increase blood levels of those drugs, which can pose a potentially dangerous situation.

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Editorial Staff of the National Women’s Health Resource Center 2002/04/01 2005/03/16 Women typically are the safekeepers of their families’ health. Women purchase their families’ medications, take their children and sometimes their older parents to health care providers, and tend to make most of the family health care decisions. If this describes your role, there is much to know about how to keep yourself and your family safe when using medication. Anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock,Gingko biloba,Medication safety,Over-the-counter,Prescription,Prescription drug,Side effect,St. John’s Wort

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