Your Health Lindsay Guinaugh | 8 years ago

Make Sure Your Medicine Is Helping, Not Harming

Whether you take prescription or over-the-counter medication, taking your medication correctly is one of the most important things you can do for your own health and safety. Medication mistakes can be deadly…but they can also be avoided.

“The first thing you can do to manage your medication is to make sure you understand your prescription,” said Hala Webster, MD, from Mecklenburg Medical Group-Southpark, part of Carolinas HealthCare System.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask your doctor to repeat instructions. You should know the name of the drug, the correct dosage and why you are taking it.”

Dr. Webster suggests reading the medication label while you're with your doctor or at the pharmacy, and ask questions if there is something you do not understand. It’s also a good idea to take stock of your medication once a month. You can keep up with any prescriptions that need to be renewed and also check for medicines that have expired. “Once a certain time limit has passed, there’s no guarantee your medicine will be as effective or even safe. Do not take medication after it has expired,” Dr. Webster said. More Tips for Managing Meds • Keep a current list of medications with you at all times, including vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter. When visiting the doctor, bring your medicines and supplements with you. • Take your prescribed medication until it’s gone, even after you feel better. If you stop too soon, your symptoms may return or your infection may not be completely cleared. • Store medicines in a safe place, away from children and pets. • Do not take medication that is not prescribed to you, and don’t give your medication to someone else. This can be deadly, even for seemingly harmless medications, because you simply do not know what type of reaction someone could have to a medication. • Consider using a medicine-take back program to remove expired, unwanted, or unused medicines. Check the list of take-back events scheduled in North Carolina to find a program near you. • If no medicine take-back program is available in your area, do not flush pills or wash them down the sink. Remove the medicine from the container, crush it and mix with used coffee grounds or kitty litter. Place in a sealed plastic bag and throw in the trash. • You can also talk to your pharmacist for disposal questions, or visit the US Food and Drug Administration’s website for more information. Carolinas HealthCare System is committed to making it easy to keep you and your family healthy. To learn more about how we make health easy for you, visit CarolinasHealthCare/CareMadeEasy.