Huey Lewis sang that he ‘wanted a new drug’. His proposed ‘new drug’ had no side effects and made him feel like he felt when falling in love.
Does that describe the prescriptions that you take?
Unfortunately it’s just not that easy.
All medications have side effects. Many medications have very specific instructions to use them in a way that leads to the best possible outcome.
But, we are all busy. Who has time for those pesky details? Does it REALLY matter if you take it with food or first thing in the morning when you brush your teeth? If you take two when you remember them vs one in the morning and one at night, that’s ok, right? Do you really have to breathe in some special way when you use an inhaler? You just squirt it in, right?
To get the most benefit from your medications – and – to minimize your side effects, these details are very important. Let’s explore some of the types of important details.
Timing – If your medication is to be taken more than one time per day that means it doesn’t last a full 24 hours. To keep the medication active in your body, you need to take it more than once. If you take it too close together, you will get more than a full dose while the two doses overlap. This can increase your side effects or even be dangerous because you have too much medication. If you miss a dose, you will have time with little or no medication in your system to treat your condition.
Food – Some medications will bind to medication in the stomach and not be absorbed. So, you will get no medication in your body if you take it with food. Other medications will make you sick to your stomach if you don’t take them with food. Food will decrease or prevent that side effect of feeling nauseous.
Finishing early – Some conditions require that the whole bottle/set of medications be taken. Often we think once we feel better we’ll just stop taking the medication. Sometimes we even keep the extra in case we need them another time. Some medications, like antibiotics, need to be taken until all are gone. You start feeling better when the bacteria is made weak, but it is not gone yet. If you stop the antibiotic when you feel better, the bacteria can get strong again. Often that same antibiotic won’t weaken the bacteria the next time, so you will need to be on an even stronger antibiotic.
Finishing too quickly – Other medications need to be gradually taken away rather than stopped all at once. Your body can’t take back over all at once if you have been taking these medications. Examples are beta blockers for high blood pressure and prednisone for inflammatory reactions. The gradual taper of these medications is essential to avoid severe side effects. (Note, this DOES NOT mean you are addicted.)
Technique – Inhalers, eye drops, ear drops, injections, patches, suppositories, and other medication forms can be difficult to use correctly. If you don’t use them just right, you won’t get the full benefit of the medication. This is a waste of money, and more importantly, won’t help you feel better. For some of these medications, correct use can even be the difference between getting better and calling 911.
So, I highly encourage you to pay attention to these details about your medications. If you see instructions you don’t understand or know their purpose, ask your pharmacist. Pharmacists are there to explain, demonstrate, and help you get the most from your medications.
For more information, contact us at www.medsmash.com
If you’d like further application, check out my personal blog.
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