Where would we be without modern medicines? It is truly astounding how much medicine has improved quality of life, extended life and reduced or even eliminated epidemic illnesses.
Medications have been around for a very long time; they started with the use of plants and bark to treat a variety of ailments. We know the people who used these were on to something, because compounds from certain plants are still used as the foundation for medications prescribed today.
What do Medications Do?
The primary uses of medication include:
- Slow the progression of disease
- Reduce or get rid of symptoms of illness or disease
- Stop the spread of disease
- Cure a disease
- Prevent disease
- Assist with the process of diagnosing a disease
Despite the benefits of medications, there are also some drawbacks. Medications can have side effects and cause unwanted complications. There are certain safety principles that should always be followed when taking any type of medication.
Safely Taking Medications
Medications alter how something in your body functions. It’s extremely important to take them the right way, because otherwise you may cause further disease or damage. Here are some important principles to remember when taking medications:
- If you have a strange or uncomfortable reaction after taking a new medication, seek medical help. All medications have side effects and everyone can react differently.
- Read the label carefully and follow the instructions. The time of day you take a pill, foods you eat or do not eat, and other factors may all affect how your body absorbs the medication.
- Always leave the medication in its original prescription bottle. This is extremely important. It helps you from getting confused. If you are hurt or injured and emergency personnel need to know what meds you are taking, they can easily read that on the label.
If you are traveling, TSA can take away medications that are not in their original prescription bottle with your name on it. Doing so helps cut down on illegal drug trade.
- Any time you have a question about your medications, call your primary care provider or the pharmacy. They can help.
- Only take the doses prescribed. Your body processes medications through your liver and kidneys. Taking too much of a medication can damage these organs.
- Do not share your medications with others. Each person needs to be evaluated by a medical provider to be sure the medication is right for them and won’t interact with any other medications they are taking.
- Ask your pharmacist or primary care provider if any over the counter or herbal medications can interact with your prescription medications. This happens a lot and can cause some serious side effects and complications.
- Keep your medications in a clean, dry area that does not have extreme temperatures. Humidity, heat and cold can all change the way medications work.
- Keep medications in child proof bottles, or locked away.
- Take all medications prescribed, exactly as instructed. This is especially important when it comes to antibiotics.
Medications continue to evolve to treat a variety of conditions. While there are many positive elements about medication use, it’s important to look at all the treatment and prevention options available. Could healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise, self-reflection make a difference in the condition? Do you need a second opinion from another medical provider? These are all questions to ask your nurse practitioner or doctor in person.
Understanding all of your medical conditions, and everything that can help reduce, treat or cure that condition, will enable you to make the best choices together with your licensed medical care provider.
The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed medical professional. It is essential that you discuss with your primary care provider any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.
Food and Drug Administration (2015) Ensuring safe use of medicine. Retrieved from: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/EnsuringSafeUseofMedicine/
National Institute on Aging (2015) Medications: using the safely. Retrieved from: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/medicines