It is recommended that you keep yourself actively informed about your medications and treatments.
- always make sure you understand why you are taking each prescription – what it is intended to do – if you aren't sure ask either your doctor, pharmacist or health care professional
- always take your medication exactly as prescribed – to work properly you need to take the medications as directed
- only take what dosage the doctor has prescribed for you – taking more or less could have very unpleasant side effects, even life threatening ones
- make sure you take the medication at the same time every day – this will help you to remember it and it will help to keep a consistent level of the medication in your system – medications work better when there is a steady level of the drug in your system
- store the medication as directed – this will help to keep the integrity of the medication and prolong its use
- never use a medication that is passed its expiry date – expiry dates are put on medications for a reason – like food – it indicates how long the life of the product is – you don't want to use medications that have passed their expiry date
- if you do have expired medication do not throw it out! - bring the expired medications to your pharmacist and they can dispose of it properly – flushing medications down the toilet only introduces the drugs to the water system and throwing them in the garbage is not a good idea either
- if your medication comes with the following warning “do not chew or open capsule” make sure you follow that – this warning indicates that if you were to chew or open the capsule you could actually overdose on the medication – this also means that the medication is a sustained release – which means that it is meant to be released into your body over time gradually
- when pouring liquid medications do not use your kitchen spoons – each spoon is a different size and you will not get the appropriate dosage – the dose could be larger or smaller than what has been prescribed – use your baking spoons or a medication cup that typically comes with liquid medications – if your medication does not come with a measuring cup ask your pharmacist – they are usually provided for free – some liquid medications may also come with a small syringe – these may be provided for free - ask the pharmacist
- to keep the integrity of your medications, storage is very important – if you look at the handout from your pharmacist you will notice there are storage recommendations given – it is extremely important that you follow these – many people do not realize how important medication storage is and many of those people become very sick every year
- never store your medication in a warm area – never leave medication in your car or glove box as temperatures in cars can reach extreme heights and this can have a damaging affect on your medications
- medications are generally stored between 15-30C to maintain the integrity of the drug – do not store in a bathroom cupboard or in a cupboard that is under any sink – do not store near stoves or other sources of heat – the kitchen is only a good place to keep your medication if you can keep them separate from your food storage, keep it out of the reach of your kids who may try sneak a snack, and keep it in a cool dry place
It is very important that you not share your medication with anyone. You do not know how it will effect them or if they may have an allergy to it. Medications are prescribed by qualified professionals for a reason.
I would also encourage you to keep your medication away from your children. It is often a tempting situation for teenagers to take their parents medications to get high. Small children may think because the pills are different colours that they may be candy or mints.
For everyone's safety, please keep in mind where you keep your medications.
It could save someone's life.
Written by Tammy Taylor HSW DSW
Taken from "Living with Chronic Pain - A Patient's Perspective"