If you're someone who takes over the counter medications or prescription medicines, you need to become medicine smart. What does this mean? For starters, you should know what your medications are ... but also what they are treating, why a particular one has been chosen uniquely for you and how to use them.
According to The National Council on Patient Information and Education, here are the most important things to know:
1. What is the name of the medicine and what is it for? Is this the brand name or the generic name?
2. Is a generic version of this medicine available? If so, it may be more cost effective to ask your doctor to prescribe it for you.
3. How and when do I take it - and for how long?
4. What foods, drinks, other medicines or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine? Adverse reactions are serious things, so learn what goes and doesn't go well with your medications.
5. When should I expect the medicine to begin to work - and how will I know if it's working?
6. Are there any side effects? What are they and what do I do if they occur?
7. Will this medicine work safely with the other prescription and nonprescription medicines I'm taking? Will it work safely with any supplements like vitamins, for instance?
8. Do I need to get a refill? If so, when?
9. How should I store this medicine? Some medicines must be refrigerated. Others need to be in a dark cool place. Other can't be stored near sunlight.
10. Is there any written information available about the medicine? Is it available in large print or a language other than English?
I always encourage children and adults I work with to become medicine smart. It makes treatment all the more effective when you know all the whys, whats, whens and hows about medication. One last thing I recommend: Keep a list of all the medications you take available in your wallet, handbag or on your cellphone. In case of an emergency, the medications you take will be at-the-ready should the information be needed.