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Are you getting the most out of your medications?

Both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, whether taken orally, inhaled, or applied topically, are the most effective when they are used as directed. While there are many benefits to be gained from taking medications, when used incorrectly, medications can cause harm, and even possibly death.   Tips for getting the most of your medications:   - Know your meds – When getting prescription meds from the doctor make sure you know what you’re supposed to be getting. Illegible handwriting is a major cause of medication errors. Pharmacists need to be able to read the names of medications in order to make sure you get the right product at the right doses, which is just one reason many practices are transitioning to printed prescriptions. Also, make sure you can read, and understand, the instructions as how to take the medication.   - Use only as directed – Use all medications, whether prescription or OTC, exactly as directed. Don’t take more or less than you’re instructed to use and make sure you use it for the full duration. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society says that after the first 10 days taking new medications 1 out f 3 people aren’t taking them correctly!   - Know how to take your medications – Think it doesn’t matter what type of beverage you use to take your medications? Guess again! If it says to take with a full glass of water, then you shouldn’t be taking it with a glass of soda, milk, or juice. Different beverages affect how the medications are dissolved, absorbed by the body, and functions. When some medications are taken without water they have the potential to burn a hole in the throat, while others can cause stomach and esophageal irritation or lead to the formation of ulcers! Also, it is always a good idea to wait at least 15 minutes after taking medications before lying down. It is important to make sure medications don’t get stuck in the throat or esophageal tract.   - Know about possible interactions – Some medications may have negative interactions with certain foods, beverages (especially alcohol), or expose to certain environmental conditions, like sun expose. According to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, an alarming 51% of survey participants reported not knowing the side effects of their medications before they started taking them and only 44% reported knowing how their medications could interact with other products! It is always a good idea to check with the pharmacist to learn about potential side effects and verify any contraindications regarding your medications.   -  When in doubt, check it out! Don’t be afraid to call your local pharmacist or the doctor’s office if you have ANY questions or concerns relating to your medications.   - Properly store all medicationsProperly store all medications according to the instructions on the product label/packaging. Store medications in their original containers and keep all product packaging and inserts. This helps prevent medications from being mistaken as the wrong medication and enables you to refer back to the product information if needed.   - Check expiration dates – Don’t use medications that have expired. Once expired, the potency of the medications may have changed and the medications may not function as designed.   Following these great tips is a great way to help avoid medication errors and ensure that you are getting the most out of your medications. In addition to following these tips, Mountainside Medical Equipment offers a variety of pill boxes, ranging from the classic 7-day pill box, to weekly 4-times-a-day pill organizers, and even pill organizers that have built in alarm clocks to help you remember when to take your medications.   Sources:
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