If you are taking prescribed medications, how can you ensure your safety?
When your doctor prescribes a medicine, he will do so in good faith because you have a condition that he believes the medication will either cure or help by alleviating symptoms. But it is important to remember that prescribed medications are drugs and there are steps that you, and your professional practitioners, need to take to ensure your safety.
Let’s just look at a few of the potential problems, then we will look at steps to take to ensure your safety.
- Wrongly used medications can lead to an overdose which could, at worst, be fatal or, at least, make you very ill.
- If you have multiple prescriptions, they could be interacting badly.
- Some prescribed drugs are very addictive causing long-term physical and mental health issues.
- Some medications react badly with certain foodstuffs and/ or food supplements.
- Certain medicines, such as antibiotics, can deplete the body’s immunity.
So, let’s look at some steps you and your doctors can take so that prescribed medications ensure your safety.
Do you really need the medication?
In fairness to GPs, they consistently work under a great deal of pressure and often the easiest course of action is to give their patient a prescription. But sometimes, lifestyle changes can be more beneficial for long-term health.
Ask your doctor if there are any social prescribing options. Most GP practices now have Social Prescribing Link Workers who work in partnership with GPs to support people with non-medical interventions that can improve their health and wellbeing.
If you are several medications, ask your GP if you can see the Clinical Pharmacist, also normally based at the surgery. These professionals have expert knowledge of prescribed medications and how they interact with each other and are often able to substantially reduce the number of medications you are taking.
Do not insist on repeat prescriptions without taking the steps above.
Similarly, do not visit the doctor with the intent of ensuring you get a specific prescription. Antibiotics are a typical example and although doctors have been advised to reduce antibiotic prescriptions, they are often faced with quite aggressive demands and wrongly, but understandably, succumb to the request.
And as we have already mentioned, some prescribed medicines are highly addictive drugs. If you are regularly taking any of the drugs mentioned in this article, ask your GP what alternatives he can suggest remembering that alternatives may be another medication, or maybe a referral to a Link Worker for help with lifestyle changes.
If you are pregnant or even just at the stage of trying to conceive, your body is more sensitive and special care needs to be taken. And naturally, you also do not want to do anything that will harm your unborn child. Naturally, your doctor will normally know if you are pregnant but not necessarily if you are trying to conceive or in the very early stages of pregnancy, so do ensure your inform your GP if a prescription is being considered. The best advice is to avoid all medications if you possibly can.
Avoiding an overdose
Once you have an appropriate prescription, you must follow instructions careful to avoid an overdose which could make you very ill or, at worst, could even be fatal.
Listen to your doctor when prescribing your medicine. Make sure that you follow the advice. Avoid taking more medications because you believe it would help you recover faster.
Your medication will also have dosage information on the label. If that seems to contradict what your doctor has told you, call the surgery and get clarification.
Some medications should be taken with food and some should not. Ensure you understand when you should be taking your medication.
Also, follow use by instructions. If the medication is out of date, do not take it. Do not dispose of it with your normal household waste; return your unused medications to your local pharmacist
Look for the active ingredient
Every medicine has an active ingredient. Make sure you do not take two different medicines with the same active ingredient. You will then have twice the normal dosage, and it could lead to an overdose.
Ask your doctor if you think the presence of the same active ingredient will cause any issues. He will probably refer you to the clinical Pharmacist.
Don’t take a “similar” medicine unless advised
You might also try other medicines that could have the same effect as the prescribed one. You may do so because you believe that the effects are the same. Unless your physician tells you directly that these medicines are interchangeable, you must avoid the temptation.
Don’t mix medicines, foods, and supplements
Some certain medicines and foods do not go well together. Medicines that are coagulants do not go well with an excess of green, leafy vegetables. Anti-inflammatory drugs do not go well with milk. You must remember these details to avoid unexpected reactions or negating the effectiveness of the medication prescribed.
Talk to your healthcare provider to find out the foods and supplements to avoid when under medication.
Some medicines cannot be taken together. Your doctor will not intentionally prescribe you medications that should not go together, but they are not pharmacists. Problems are prone to arise when you perhaps sought help from a different physician for a previous ailment. You must disclose that you are under medication for another illness so that your current doctor will avoid giving you an incompatible pill.
However, if there are no contraindications given, it is safe to take different medicines. For instance, if you have to take fungal nail tablets, they’re generally safe, but it still pays to ask for professional advice.
Label your medicines and store them safely
Overdosage might also be a result of your lack of knowledge. Some of these pills look alike. It is easy for you to get confused without the correct labels. Find the right, safe storage area to ensure that your medicines will last longer.
Do not forget that many medications look like sweets to young children. Ensure all your pills are out of reach as a small quantity could make them seriously ill.
Learn from your experience
You must take note of the issues you faced before for taking certain medicines. You can avoid it from happening if you remember the lessons. Always talk to your doctor if you are uncertain about what you are taking. Naturally, you should always stop taking medications if recommended or advised by the doctor. However, do not just decide to stop taking your medications if you think you are better and do not need them anymore, or have any other concerns about what you are taking. Always speak to your doctor first. Your GP may agree with you but, alternatively, there could be justifiable reasons why you need to ensure you take medications for a specific time to ensure your illness does not return.