A prescription for safety
You've just been prescribed medication from your physician, only to later realize that you're uncertain about possible side effects and have other questions.
If you've experienced this, you're not alone. More than 80 percent of American adults take at least one medication, and nearly 30 percent take five or more. However, recent studies report that more than six in 10 patients are not aware of the risk associated with the medicine they take.(1)
Enloe Pharmacy Director Chris Marking emphasizes the importance of being your own advocate in managing your medications. "If you don't understand what you're taking and why you're taking it, then keep asking questions until you're confident in your knowledge," he explains. "It's critical to comprehend the benefits and potential risks of your medicines."
If drug interactions occur, they may reduce a drug's effectiveness, increase the severity or likeliness of side effects or even result in a harmful combination.
For your safety
- Make a medication list. Create a list of all medications and dosage amounts, dietary supplements, allergies and blood type. Post the list on your refrigerator and keep a copy in your wallet. This record is invaluable in the event of a serious emergency or drug interaction.
- Share the list with your doctors. If you see more than one doctor, be sure they all know what the others are prescribing.
- Schedule a brown bag checkup. Put all your medications, including over-the-counter medications and supplements, in a paper bag and bring it to your health care provider's office. They will review your medications and determine if there is a potential for drug interactions or if dosage adjustments are required.
- Use one pharmacy for all prescriptions. Most pharmacies today have computer systems that will alert the pharmacist to any possible drug interactions.
- Ask your pharmacist if they have the ability to make labels with large print if you need them. Use your pharmacist as a resource to help manage your medication.
- Remember to take all your medications. Create a reminder system that works for you, whether it's a pill box, an alarm on your smartphone, a calendar or hand-written notes.
- Never take medication that has expired. It loses its effectiveness.
- Never mix medications in the same bottle. You might take the wrong one by mistake, and it's possible they can interact with each other before you even take them.
- Never share your medication with someone or take medication given to you from someone other than your health care provider.
- Never stop taking medication without talking to your health care provider first. If you are having problems with a certain medication, there may be an alternate you can take. Also, some medications must be stopped gradually to avoid problems.
You can dispose of unwanted or expired medications at safe drop-off locations, including Enloe's Wellness Expo on November 5. For a listing
of local drop-off sites, visit enloe.org/medicationdrop.