Medication can help alleviate ailments and treat illnesses. However, misuse may harm your health. Depending on the drug you are taking, you may experience mild to serious side effects if you don’t follow your doctor’s recommendations. For example, you may get an upset stomach or develop liver damage. To avoid experiencing severe complications, you need to be aware of the kinds of medications available and how to safely use them.
Over-the-counter medicine is popularly known as OTC medication or non-prescription medicine. It is a kind of medication you can buy without the need for a doctor’s prescription. They are safe and effective to use as long as you follow the label’s directions and your health care provider’s instructions. Some examples of OTC medication are:
- Pain medicines, such as aspirin and ibuprofen
- Cold and flu medicines
- Allergy medicines like antihistamines
- Sleep aids
You can only access prescription medicines with a doctor’s prescription. It is bought in a pharmacy and is intended to be used by the person whose name is on the prescription. When you purchase them, you can choose between a generic medicine and a brand-name medicine. Both work the same way; the only difference is that the generic one costs less.
Before doctors prescribe you any medicine, they review all potential benefits and risks. To avoid any harmful effects, they also take into account several factors including:
- Personal information – Doctors need to gather your personal information like how much you weigh, what other medications you’re taking, and if you have any other medical conditions. These are vital to ensure your safety.
- Appropriate dose – Doctors carefully consider how long it will take a drug to dissolve in your stomach, enter your blood, and reach your brain. They need to make sure that the dosage is effective without causing any harm, because taking a large dosage of certain drugs may put you at risk for an overdose.
- Possible side effects – The intention of prescribing you medication is to treat certain conditions or illnesses. However, some prescription drugs may affect your body in other ways. These side effects may be uncomfortable or dangerous, especially when not taken as prescribed or consumed together with other substances.
There is a lot to consider before doctors can prescribe you medicines because any misuse may put your health at risk. At the same time, you need to be careful with handling your OTC or prescription medications. There are guidelines for storing, using, and disposing of medications correctly.
- Store medicines in a cool, dry place – You need to make sure all your medicines are away from any humid conditions as this may break them down and cause them to become less effective.
- Keep them away from windows – Similarly, exposure to direct sunlight can alter the condition of your OTC and prescription drugs.
- Store medicines in their original containers – This is the best way to store them so you can track the prescribed dosage and expiration dates.
- Keep medicines out of children’s reach – Whether you have OTC or prescribed medicines, you need to make sure to keep them away from children to avoid accidental ingestion. Also, keep in mind that teens are susceptible to developing an addiction to certain drugs. For everyone’s safety, it’s best to keep your medications in a secure place where they cannot be easily accessed.
- Avoid sharing – Your prescribed medications are carefully considered for your particular use, and not for others. No matter how good your intentions may be, sharing medicines may endanger other people. Since you are not aware of their allergies and medical condition, you could put their life at risk.
- Pick up your refills – Many pharmacies only give prescription drugs directly to the patients who will use them. To prevent drug misuse, remember to pick up your own medication refills and avoid asking others to do it for you.
- Follow the doctor’s recommendation – Take prescription drugs as directed by your doctors. If the instruction is to consume it with food, avoid taking it on an empty stomach. Also, make sure to only consume the prescribed amount—no more and no less. In case you miss a dose, avoid doubling your next dose to make up for it. Instead, discuss it with your doctor.
- Take medication only for the period indicated – Your doctor’s instructions should include an end date for when you should stop taking medication. However, some drugs can cause your body to develop dependency and you may need help to wean off usage safely. If your doctor believes you are developing a dependency on your prescription medicine, they may refer you to a treatment facility to get proper help. You may select a nearby rehab facility or an out-of-state Dallas drug rehab center to immediately get treated.
- Dispose of expired drugs – Medications past their expiration date are no longer effective, so it’s best not to take them. Check your medicine cabinet every once in a while, so you can remove any expired products.
- Remove labels – For privacy purposes, it’s best to remove and destroy the labels on your prescriptions. Once your pill bottles are empty, remember to cut up or shred the labels.
- Dispose of them properly – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has instructions on how to safely dispose of unused drugs. They have a list of drugs that can be flushed down on the sink or toilet. When throwing unused drugs into household trash, the FDA recommends taking them out of the pill bottles and mixing them with undesirable things like coffee grounds or dirt. Then, put the mixture in a closed container like a can with a lid or re-sealable plastic bag before throwing it in the trash bag.
These are some of the ways how you can safely take prescription and over-the-counter medicines when treating medical conditions. If you have questions or feel like your current dosage is not providing the same effect as it used to, make sure to consult your healthcare provider first before changing anything. Medicine is meant to protect and preserve your health but it must be used responsibly.