All medicines, whether prescription or purchased over-the-counter, are dangerous if used improperly. They can be potentially poisonous to people of all ages. Yet many of us leave medications unsecured; treat medication as ‘candy’; set medications out with our meal so we don’t forget not realizing that the multi-colored pills might be picked up by a small child.
Vitamins, supplements, aspirin and many other over-the-counter remedies, as well as prescriptions medicines, should be purchased with child-resistant closures and stored securely. Here are some other best practices for handling medicine safely.
- Lock medicines and medical supplies in a medicine cabinet or other locking cabinet.
- Do not store medications, prescription or non-prescription in a location that could easily be accessed by a child. These include night stands, purses, kitchen table or easily accessed cupboard.
- Do not separate the medication from its original container. Capsules and tablets may look alike but have totally different effects. It’s not in the original container it is not safe to use.
- It is easy to confuse yourself when items look alike and then wonder was I to take two of that yellow capsule and one of the other or visa versa
- Flush down the toilet any expired or unwanted medications. You can also take them to your pharmacist for safe disposal.
- Do not take someone else’s medications. What might be prescribed for your headache may not work for someone else let alone they may be allergic to your medication
- Complete all medications as per the instructions on the bottle or until told to discontinue it by your family doctor. Things like antibiotics might make you feel better in 2 or 3 days but your doctor prescribed a 10-day supply for a reason.
- If you have question about your medications ask your pharmacist.
- If you have a “reaction” to your medication stop taking the medication and contact your pharmacist. If the “reaction” is significant such as shortness of breath, hives or significant swelling of lips call paramedics
- Store medications in a cool dry location that limits exposure to light.
- If the medication is expired such as a cold medication, do not use. It is quite possibly ineffective or even dangerous.
- Personal care products, vitamins, cosmetics and general first aid supplies are also potentially dangerous in the hands of a child. Keep these stored safely.
- Follow the instructions printed on the container for all over-the-counter medications. Take one or two extra is a recipe for disaster.
- Be careful when combining medications. Sometimes one medication is not compatible with the other such that they cancel each other out or have the opposite effect and maybe cause a “double dose” effect. Always read the label and ask your pharmacist
- Read warning labels that state things like “May cause drowsiness” or “Do not combine with alcohol” as these warnings are for your safety.
Medications whether prescription or over the counter are meant to make us healthy and/or correct a chronic condition. Taking them with care and instruction from your pharmacist and physician will continue on the path to good health. Please always share with your health care team if you are taking any home herbal supplements as these may interact with prescription medication. Have a safe day!
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