How do I get the most benefit from my medication?
The way to get the most benefit from your medication is to take it according to your doctor's directions. But that's not the only benefit. Following directions for taking medication means you are taking your medication safely. And safety is important because, taken the wrong way, medications can be extremely dangerous. These safety tips can help you and your family avoid accidental poisoning:
- Keep medication out of the reach of children and pets.
- Never take medication prescribed for someone else.
- Never give your prescription medication to someone else - not even a family member.
- Find out from your prescribing doctor if you should avoid certain foods, other medications, supplements, or alcohol while taking your medication.
- If you miss a dose, check with your pharmacist about when to take the next dose of medication. Doubling up at the next dosing time may not be recommended. Missing or skipping a dose entirely may be equally as hazardous. It depends on the medication you are taking and on you.
- Take only the amount prescribed at the frequency prescribed. Taking more of your medication or taking it more often is not better! (And less may mean it won't do its job.) Talk to your doctor if you think your medication is not working.
- Always measure liquid medicine accurately. Use a dosing cup, spoon (not a kitchen spoon!), or dropper with measurements on it to ensure the correct dosage is given. This is especially important for children's medications, as even a little extra medication can amount to an overdose for a child. (Remember that measurement cups for certain medications may not be accurate or equal measurements for other medicines.)
- Don't give children medicines for adults - the dosages are meant for adults, not children.
- Always take your medication with the lights on. That way you can double check you have the right vial and are taking the correct amount.
- Avoid drug interactions. Make sure you know if there are other medications you should not take at the same time. If you go to multiple doctors, make sure each one knows all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take - to avoid interactions.
- If possible, go to only one pharmacy to obtain all your prescription medications. These days, most pharmacies can track your medications on their computer system - which can also help you avoid drug interactions.
Remember: The key to appropriate medication usage is safety. If you're ever in doubt, don't hesitate to ask a pharmacist or your prescribing doctor before you take your medication. As the saying goes, "It's better to be safe than sorry."