By Diane Forrest, RN
"What time is it?" I would ask my dad. He would answer" Why? You taking a pill?" I said, "Yes". He would reply, “What time is your next pill?"
I always had to work to get the time out of my father, and I can't tell you how many times we had that same conversation, but one thing is certain. If you are taking medication, you must take it at the prescribed times. October is Talk about Prescriptions Month, so today I would like to share with you a few rules about Medications.
First and foremost, only take medications that are prescribed for you. Even if medications treat the same problem, they may work differently. If you have an infection, and a friend offers you an antibiotic. Don't take it, wait till you see or call your own doctor.
Take your medication at the prescribed time. They have these doses for a reason. This reason is very complicated, but in a nutshell, drugs have what is called a half-life. What this means is the amount of time it takes for a drug to lose half of its effectiveness. For example, you are prescribed a pain medication. It is ordered to take one every 4 to 6 hours as needed for pain. This medication will probably have its half- life in 6 hours, you will need to take another one if the pain is still present to keep the amount even in your body. If you take the drug too soon, you will have too much in your body, and if you wait longer, it will take longer for the medication to work. Your main objective is to keep an even amount of the medication in your bloodstream so it will be effective in relieving the problem.
Check all the rules for the medication. There are so many different rules that come with each medication. While some may not have any special directions, some include things like:
- Don’t take with another type of medication or certain type of liquid, like milk;
- Take on an empty or full stomach;
- Don't crush;
- Keep in the refrigerator;
- Keep out of sunlight;
- If you miss a dose, wait til the next scheduled time, do not take 2 at one time;
- Take first thing in the morning;
- Take at bedtime; and
- Take all the medication and Do not stop if you are feeling better.
There are many other rules. These are in place to make sure the medication is working properly. Some medications, if stopped suddenly can cause the body harm. They are required to be tapered off. Antibiotics, if stopped too soon, will allow the infection to return.
Always know what side effects are caused by your medication. Some side effects are minor and can just be an inconvenience. Others can be dangerous and life threatening and require immediate emergency treatment. These days when you pick up your prescriptions at the drugstore, they will attach a sheet that covers all the special directions, and side effects, and precautions. Make sure you are familiar with this information, and even if you have been taking the same medication for a long period of time, it is still a good idea to refresh your memory every now and then.
Other important information includes:
- Only take medications that are prescribed for you;
- Never share your medications with anyone;
- Check the expiration dates, and disposes of out of date medication; and
- Keep all medications away from children.
Also talk with your primary physician about your medications, especially during your annual physical – to review the current medications that you’re own, and those you have been taking for an extended period of time. (Akindman)