Every year, hospitals receive thousands of patients suffering from health problems caused by mishandling their meds. From accidentally overdosing to taking the wrong meds, there are many ways in which medication can be misused, often resulting in dangerous side effects. If you take medication on a regular basis, it could be essential to make sure that you’re not making any of the following mistakes.
Taking the wrong dosage
A common hazardous mistake that people make with medication is taking the wrong dose. While not taking enough medication could stunt your treatment and cause problems in certain cases, the more dangerous problem is overdosing. Always talk to your doctor or read the packaging to ensure you know exactly what the maximum safe dosage is.
When keeping up with multiple forms of medication, it can become easier to get mixed up and accidently take an extra dose. A dosette box delivery could be a way of preventing this – this involves having each dosage separated out by day in a tray for you. Pill dispensers with alarms could also help to alert you exactly when to take pills if you’re suffering from dementia (or simply have a poor memory).
Mixing the wrong pills
Certain medication can have dangerous side effects when mixed with other medication. If you suffer from multiple chronic illnesses, it could be worth talking to your doctor about the medication that is prescribed to you to check than no two medicines are interfering with each other.
When it comes to over-the-counter medicines, it’s worth doing online research before you take any two medications together. A common example of when medication can be dangerously mixed is when taking OTC painkillers. For instance, you can safely mix paracetamol and ibuprofen, however you cannot safely mix ibuprofen and aspirin (mixing the latter two can cause stomach pain and even stomach bleeding).
Storing medication in the wrong place
Medication should always be stored in a safe place where it cannot be accessed by the wrong people. If you have kids or pets, try to store it high up somewhere out of reach or lock your medication away. Locking away medication could also be important if members of your household have dementia or have an addiction to certain household drugs. There are safes and locked containers that you can buy for locking medication in.
It’s important to also keep medication at the right temperature. If exposed to the wrong temperatures, certain medication could become ineffective (such as insulin and thyroid hormones) or even toxic. Certain medication has to be kept frozen or refrigerated, while other medication may need to be kept at room temperature (you can find out this information on the packaging or by talking to your doctor). Avoid keeping medication near heat sources or on windowsills that receive a lot of sun exposure.
Taking expired medication
Most medication has an expiry date. This should be clearly printed on the packaging. Taking medication after it has expired could be dangerous. Due to changes in chemicals, certain medications can become prone to bacteria growth, while other medications can lose their potency (antibiotics often become ineffective once past their expiry date). If you’ve had medication sitting in your cupboard for a while, make sure to check the expiry date before you take a dose.
Not knowing the name of your medication
It’s wise to know the exact name of your medication if you’re able to remember it. Mix-ups at pharmacies can happen – patients can end up being given the wrong drugs and can end up taking them accidentally thinking that they are the correct drug. If you know the name of your medication, you’ll be more likely to spot when you’ve been given the wrong medicine as you’ll notice that the name is wrong on the packaging. Writing the name of your medication down somewhere safe so that you can refer to it could be an alternative option if the name is too difficult to remember.
Forgetting medication when travelling
If you’re travelling away somewhere, make sure that you pack your medication. Forgetting prescription medication could put your health in serious danger (especially the likes of insulin, inhalers and epi-pens).
If you’re going away for a long period, you may want to consider asking if you can stock up on medication before you go or having medication delivered to your accommodation. Meanwhile, if you’re going on a plane, consider the rules surrounding hand luggage and whether your medication is allowed (most necessary medication will usually be allowed in hand luggage).
As well as packing your medication, it’s worth packing some prescription notes. If you lose your medication, you can then go to a local pharmacy and show proof that you have a prescription (without this proof, pharmacies may not allow you to buy medication). Translated copies may be worth taking when going abroad.
Using medication that isn’t FDA-approved
Most medication that is recommended by doctors will be approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Taking medication that isn’t approved could be risky – it could carry side-effects that have stopped it from being approved or it could be deemed to be medically ineffective.
Some drugs that aren’t approved by the FDA are still available in pharmacies. However, this is changing and a growing number of these drugs have been receiving bans in recent years (especially those with more serious potential side effects). If a doctor recommends a drug to you that is not approved, don’t be afraid to question why they have made this decision.
As for supplements and homeopathic remedies, these generally aren’t FDA-approved – but this is because they are not technically drugs. Such supplements and homeopathic remedies aren’t likely to be dangerous in most cases, however you should always do your online research (use certified sites when doing this – don’t trust strangers on Facebook with advice).
Drug approval can vary from country to country, so be careful when buying drugs abroad. Be wary that certain foreign medication may be illegal to take back to your home country.
This is a collaborative post.