Examples of what labels might come with your medication are:
do not chew or break open capsule – this medication is a sustained release medication and directions must be followed – if you were to break open the capsule or chew it, you could potentially overdose on the medication – capsules are sustained release medications that are released into your blood stream gradually over time - the medication is released as the capsule melts – any different absorption rate could have toxic even life threatening effects
take with food – this medication needs to be taken with food because it is absorbed better into your body when you have something to eat – it doesn't have to be a full meal but just a snack – food will often act as a buffer as well as lower the risks of stomach upset
take before meals – this medication needs to be taken one (1) hour before eating – this will give the medication time to start breaking down - when you do eat, the food will help the medication be absorbed into your body
take after meals – this medication needs to be taken two (2) hours after eating – this will give your body time to start digesting your food - when you take your medication your system is already working to breakdown what you have eaten and the medication will be absorbed into your body
take with water or take with milk – these directions are pretty easy to understand – what this means is that your medication will be better absorbed if swallowed with milk or water – if you are directed to take your medication with one or the other please follow that – it may seem really silly but there are some medications that will not work or will be changed if taken with milk – the same holds for water – so always follow this seemingly silly direction
may cause dizziness or drowsiness – this is indicating that your medication may cause you to feel dizzy or drowsy – it will also warn about operating a vehicle or heavy machinery until you know how the drug will affect you – you may wish to try taking the medications at night – this will have the dizziness and drowsiness occurring while you are sleeping and you will not experience the effects – however this may then cause you to wake up feeling “hung over” or “fuzzy” – if this occurs take your time moving around in the morning – do not get up or move too quickly – this may continue until your body gets used to the medication and then stop or it may persist – if this problem persists or gets worse, make sure you share this with your doctor
do not take with alcohol – these directions are pretty easy to understand – combining alcohol with certain drugs will change how the drug works – it may also intensify the side effects such as, drowsiness and dizziness of other drugs – alcohol should also not be mixed with anti-depressant drugs
This list is in no way a completed list of labels. There are also labels that warn about combining medications with each other. For example, there is a warning against taking the little blue pill with certain heart medications as it could cause an unsafe drop in your blood pressure.
Over the counter (OTC) medications are also required to list cautions and warnings on their bottles and packaging. Most cough and cold medicines warn against being taken by people with high blood pressure, diabetes and hypertension. Medicines such as Tylenol, ASA, and other pain relievers also come with a warning on their packaging. Please read about each medicine carefully before taking it. Education about your medications could save your life.
Whatever the label your medication comes with, it is important that you follow it. With most medications, the side effects you may experience will go away or lessen to a tolerable level once the therapeutic level of the medication has been reached in your body. If you absolutely cannot live with the side effects, DO NOT stop taking the medication until you have spoken with your doctor. If it will be too long before your appointment, at least speak with your pharmacist. Withdrawal from some medications needs to be monitored safely. Even with withdrawal, you may experience some very unpleasant side effects that will need to be recorded.
- your family doctor will only prescribe medications that they feel the benefits will out way the risks – it is important to discuss your full family history with your doctor and be sure to tell them all of the medications you are taking including over the counter (OTC) medicines - If you have any questions please ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications
- it is very important to discuss any and all problems you may be having before you stop taking any medications – it is often dangerous to stop taking some medications cold turkey – a gradual decline is recommended to decrease withdrawal or other side effects – blood tests may need to be ordered before you can stop taking a medication – TALK WITH YOUR DOCTOR! Your pharmacist can also suggest ways to safely stop taking medication, but your doctor needs to be informed
- it is important that you know the names of your medications as well as the doses you are prescribed. Educate yourself on the action of the medication and what benefits or risks may come from using each medication. With education and information, you increase your awareness of your choices and the risks involved with regards to medications
EDUCATION IS THE KEY TO YOUR MEDICATIONS
Written by Tammy Taylor HSW DSW
Taken from "Living with Chronic Pain - A Patient's Perspective