With so many people on prescription drugs, it is no wonder that more than 10% of hospital admissions are due to reactions or overdoses of their prescription drug medications. Here is some information to help you avoid prescription drug problems and tips so they work more effectively:
Generics Versus Brand Names: Most people think they are exactly the same prescription except cheaper, but that is not always the case. A generic drug may be absorbed differently than a brand name drug. They may contain different fillers, additives, or colors. With certain drugs, such as heart or blood thinning medicines, there is a significant difference so consult your pharmacist.
New drugs Versus Old Standards: New drugs are just what that says, “New”! This means they have not been on the market for a long period of time. It means they do not know the long term effects of the drug. You are basically a guinea pig in testing the new drug. It is much safer to take a drug that has been out a few years, with the side effects and long term problems with heart, liver, and kidney function well known. Newer is often not safer and downright dangerous.
Medicine Cabinets: Bad place for medication bottles but where most people keep them. Prescription bottles need to stored where it is dry and cool. The bathroom heats up and contains lots of moisture which has a negative impact on prescription drug stability. Keeping your drugs in the bathroom makes it easy for them to get stolen. Yes, people will use your bathroom and steal the meds from your medicine cabinet. If you have roommates or kids with lots of friends over, keep the prescription drugs out of the bathroom. Meds are better stored in your bedroom. Keep a pitcher of water and a glass on your dresser to take them with. If you suspect your child or his friends have a drug problem, keep them locked up in your bedroom drawer or lockable medicine chest.
Don’t Crush or Cut Pills Unless Advised to:
Older people do this often because they are having trouble swallowing the pills. In rest homes, they often crush the pills and put the powder in apple sauce to hide the flavor and to help them swallow them. Often, elderly patients have a compromised ability to swollow food or tablets. Pills like Ambien CR are supposed to be taken so they are dissolved slowly in the stomach over a number of hours. When you crush the pill, this action does not work properly. Some meds like aspirin are coated to protect the stomach. When you crush them, they may irritate your stomach lining. Ask the pharmacist, if you can split your pills without problems.
OTC Drugs and Many Prescription Drugs Do Not Mix Well:
Just because they can be purchased without a prescription does not mean they are safe. When you mix OTC drugs and prescription drugs, often you get nasty side effects. Combining them may cause the drugs to be more effective with more side effects or less effective.
An example is pseudoephedrine which is found in most of your cold medicines. This OTC drug can increase your heart rate and be dangerous when taken with prescription drug medications. Many OTC pain medications are hard on the stomach and can cause serious liver and kidney problems. When combined with prescription medications, this problem becomes more serious. The effect can land you in the hospital.
Take the Drug As Prescribed: Drugs have directions for use for a very good reason. When taken as prescribed, they cause much less problems. When you stop antibiotics before the dosage period ends, you promote antibiotic resistance which enables the bug to re establish itself in your system. This can make the infection worse and more difficult to stop. Stopping many medications without proper medical supervision can cause nasty withdrawal effects and drug rebound symptoms such as headaches and psychiatric symptoms. If you stop taking your heart medications, you are risking having a heart attack. Get medical help to lower or discontinue prescription medications.
Pay Attention To Food Interactions: Foods and alcohol can all effect your prescriptions. Alcohol can increase or decrease the effects of your drugs. Even if the bottle carries no warning, be careful and ask your pharmacist. Caffeine can increase your heart rate when taking some allergy, asthma, or cold medicines. Chocolate can increase the effects of MAO inhibitors, depression meds, and high blood pressure medicine. Grapefruit juice can either increase or decrease the effect of statins, blood thinners, and blood pressure medicines. Certain herbs and vitamins such as fish oil have a thinning effect on the blood so caution is needed when taking prescription drugs. Research it online and consult your pharmacist as well.
Throw Old Medicine Away: Old medications may be more or less effective causing problems in your body. They may break down to a point of becoming much more toxic. Throw them away. Pay attention to those discard dates.
The Safe Way To Dispose of Old Drugs:
Don’t throw them in the trash or down the toilet. This is a serious environmental crisis with medications ending up in our drinking water, our lakes, and waterways. These medications are turning up in the fish causing deformities and in our wildlife that drink the water and eat the fish. Take your meds out of the bottles, mix them with coffee grinds or kitty litter, and place them in sealed bags or containers. Be responsible when disposing of your old medications.