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Medication Safety Tips (Part 2)


According to the CDC, each year there are hundreds of thousands of ER visits due to medication complications and mishaps. Most of these incidents could have been prevented with the proper medication care. We looked at our first 5 medication safety tips in our last post, now for the next few:

6. Always check the ingredients. Aside from checking for potential allergenic filler ingredients, you should also know how much of the active ingredient is in each medication you’re taking as it is easier to overdose on OTC medications than you may think. For example, acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) is camouflaged in many OTC and prescription medications such as decongestants and cold medicine. In fact, over 600 North American medications contain acetaminophen! So if you are taking the maximum dose of extra strength Tylenol for aches and pains, along with another acetaminophen-containing medication you may be risking serious problems.

7. Practice caffeine caution. Some medications don’t react well with caffeine, so be sure not to chase them with a large iced tea or coffee unless the pharmacist says it is okay.

8. Make sure all medications are inaccessible to children and pets. Even 1 pill or supplement can harm a child, let alone if they happen to get into a whole bottle. Keep your medications tucked away on a high shelf or in a cabinet that can’t be accessed by little ones.

9. Use steroid creams sparingly. Unless it has been okayed by your doctor or pharmacist, be sure not to use topical steroid creams too heavily as they can potentially thin the skin (atrophy), especially in sensitive areas.

10. Know if it is safe to drink alcohol. Some medications can be dangerous when combined with alcohol.

11. Don’t discontinue medications before consulting your doctor or specialist. It isn’t a good idea to stop taking medications without first consulting your doctor, unless of course you are having an allergic reaction. In which case, seek emergency medical attention.

12. Rinse your mouth out after using puffers. Puffers can cause thrush (yeast infection) of the mouth if you do not rinse the medication out of your mouth after use. Some other medications may have similar instructions to follow, so be sure to check the label every time.

Well there you have the rest of our medication do’s and don’ts! Click here for more information about how to correctly take different medications. Thanks for visiting DocChat! Remember, our board certified physicians are on standby 24/7/365 if you have any medical or medication related inquiries.


Medication Safety Tips (Part 1)

Modern medications are responsible for vastly improving healthcare and life longevity, however, they are certainly far from risk free. When used correctly and appropriately, medications can save lives and better thousands of health conditions, but there is always the potential for toxicity due to accidental misuse or overdose, drug interactions or unsafe use of certain medications (such as while pregnant). The CDC reports over 700,000 medication-related ER visits annually in the United States. Many medication mishaps are preventable by following these key safety steps:

  1. Pay close attention to the directions as well as your pharmacist’s tips. It is estimated that between 20-50% of patients don’t take their medications properly, resulting in potentially fatal mix-ups. For example, some medications are only to be taken once weekly and taking them daily could be dangerous. It is extremely important to ensure you know the correct directions and dosage of each of your medications. Do not crush or alter the medication in any way unless it says so on the container.
  2. Make a list and check it twice! If you can’t name all your drugs and dosages, you should keep a list handy in your wallet or purse of all your medications and prescribed dosages to show a new pharmacist, doctor, nurse or in case of emergency.
  3. Think before reaching for OTC medications. Though many people don’t take OTC medications as seriously as they do prescription pills, OTC drugs also carry significant risks if misused such as internal bleeding or liver damage. There are many that can interact with prescribed medications, worsen pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, or conflict with other commonly used OTC medications.
  4. Treat Supplements like medications. Most people think supplements are “no biggy”, but they can actually be pretty dangerous when taken incorrectly or with the wrong medications or medical conditions. Some supplements can even render your medication ineffective. It is also important to tell your doctor about any supplements you are taking or wish to take.
  5. Keep an eye on any new side effects. You don’t need to be alarmed or too worried about listed side effects of medications as most of them are quite rare. However, it is a good idea to keep an eye on any changes you notice since taking the new medication and let your doctor or pharmacist know at your next appointment. If the side effects are serious, seek emergency treatment right away.

Well there you have the first few of our medication do’s and don’ts. Keep an eye out for Part 2 next.  Thanks for visiting DocChat! Remember, our board-certified physicians are on standby 24/7/365 if you have any medical or medication related inquiries.