Be Medicine Savvy: Essential Tips You Need To Know

June is National Safety Month!

I’m re-sharing this updated post, because we all need a refresher course about using medicines safely.

Be Medicine Savvy

Using medicine is like using a double-edged sword. Many of us depend on medicines to keep us alive and functioning. However, we need to always remember that using medicine is serious business, and requires attention to details in order to prevent dangerous side effects. (Medicine side effects are symptoms that can occur while taking the medicine.) Even vitamins and supplements can interact with our medicines and cause problems. In order to be medicine savvy, we have to understand certain concepts.

First of all, it is very important that every doctor you see gets a complete list of what you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter medications.  Your pharmacist also needs this information. When all your doctors and pharmacists know what you are taking, the chance of dangerous interactions goes down dramatically. Keep a list of everything you take handy in your purse or wallet in case of emergencies. It’s very easy to forget when under the stress of an accident or illness.

Be Your Own Health Expert

Next, grasp the fact that you have the right to understand your health conditions and to work with your doctor to manage them. You are the “expert” on your health. Educate yourself on your health conditions and treatments. Learn how your medicines work. A great resource for your medicines is the Consumer Medication Information Sheets that are given to you at the pharmacy with your prescription.

These sheets contain both the brand name and the generic name. For example, Tylenol is a brand name and acetaminophen is a generic name. They tell you what the medicine does, any reasons why you should not take it, medicines that it may interact with, and side effects that can happen while it.  They tell you what symptoms to tell your doctor about, how to take it, and what to do if you miss a dose.

Make it a habit to read these sheets each time you get a refill. Sometimes the warnings are updated, and it’s easy to forget important information. If you don’t understand something ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. There are no stupid questions!

Free Medication E-Book

For more in depth information, I have created a brief e-book on taking medications safely that you can access and print out for future reference. Please provide your email address, and I will send the link to you for this FREE resource. Subscribing will also give you access to other Subscriber Only Resources.

Reliable Online Medication and Health Information Resources

The following sites provide reliable medicine and health condition information. While learning about your health condition(s) and medications can feel overwhelming, you can do it. Start with the most basic information, and add to it as you are able. Many times your doctor’s office can give you printed information to get you started.

Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet

Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet

If purchasing new over-the-counter medicines is financially difficult. Check with your pharmacist about continuing to use an expired product. They can advise you which products you can safely keep using. The problem with medicines past their shelf life, is that they may not work at all or they may degrade into something that you don’t want in your body. This article talks more in depth about which medicines you should NOT use past their expiration dates. Read it before cleaning out your medicine cabinet.

Finally, see this link to learn how to safely dispose of unneeded or expired medications.

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Till next time, Kathy

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