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Safe Use of Medication
Most people use medication at some point in their lives. There are many different types of medication. Some medications are used on a long-term basis to help with a chronic condition. Other medications are used for a short while to aid in recovery from an illness or injury.
There are many over-the-counter medications. These are ones that can be purchased by anyone at a local drugstore or pharmacy. Other medications require a prescription from a doctor.
Those who use medications need to be informed about what they are using. Patients should ask their doctors questions about the medications that are prescribed. Pharmacists are also helpful. They can answer questions about both prescription and over-the-counter medications.
There are many questions people should ask about medications. The American Pharmaceutical Association offers the following list:
What is the name of the medication and what is it supposed to do?
When and how should the medication be taken?
How long should it be taken?
Does this medication include anything that could cause an allergic reaction?
Should any food or alcohol be avoided?
Are there medications that should not be taken at the same time?
Are there any side effects of the medication?
What should be done if a person forgets to take the medication?
For women, is it safe to become pregnant or breastfeed with the medication?
How should the medication be stored?
Medications can sometimes cause side effects. For example, a medication that helps cure an infection may cause a stomachache. Patients should always ask about possible side effects of medications. This will help them know what to expect.
The packaging of medications often contains important information. Read medicine boxes and bottles. Pharmacists provide helpful handouts on prescription medication. Read these too.
Medications can be very helpful and even save lives. They can also be very dangerous. Asking questions and reading provided information are important prerequisites for the safe use of medication.