In the first part of this article, the need to know your medicines was described as an integral part of maintaining optimum health. Knowing your medicines is the first practical step in the safe and effective use of medicines but not an exclusive one. To get the maximum benefit from medicines, one must also keep track and use them appropriately.
- Keeping track of medicines
a. Make a list. Write down all medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs, dietary and herbal supplements. The list should include information about the following:
- The name of each medicine
- The amount you take, and the time(s) you take it.
- The doctor who prescribed it.
- The reason it was prescribed
- Side effects or reactions
b. Show your list to all your healthcare providers. You could also keep one copy in a safe place at home and one in your bag or wallet.
c. Jot down questions you may want to ask your healthcare professional on your next visit.
d. Check expiration dates on bottles. Do not use medicines past their expiration date as they may not be effective.
e. Keep medicines out of reach and sight of children
2. Using them appropriately
a. Follow your health provider’s instructions. Some medicines may be more effective when taken with or without food.
b. Use the right amount. Don’t take a larger dose of medicine thinking it will help you more. It can be very dangerous, even deadly.
c. Take medicine at the right time. You could use meals or bedtime as reminders to take your medicines where appropriate.
d. Keep medicines in their original labelled package. Carefully read each time you take. Do not assume you are familiar with them.
e. Report any problems or side effects. Let your Pharmacist or Doctor know any concerns with your medicines. There may be something else you can take.
f. Check before stopping. Even if you feel better, take prescribed medicines until it is finished or until your doctor says it is all right to stop. Note that some medicines are supposed to be taken for life such as drugs for hypertension and diabetes.
g. Be honest. Let your Pharmacist or Doctor know about alcohol or tobacco use as these may impact on your treatment.
h. Don’t share. Do not take medicines prescribed for another person or give yours to someone else.
i. Avoid self-medication. You may be causing yourself or some else more harm than good.
How can your Pharmacist help with the safe and effective use of drugs?
Your Pharmacist can offer you a review of your medicines from time to time. During this time, you would bring your medicines and go over their use with your Pharmacist.
Be sure to tell your Pharmacist about ALL other drugs you take, even if it is occasionally. This includes but is not limited to.
- Vitamins and supplements
- Herbal remedies such as Agbo etc.
- Over-the-counter drugs
- Other medicines prescribed by other doctors
The Pharmacist would take time to clarify any concerns and support your knowledge and understanding of your medicines. The practical steps discussed in this article acts as a guide only. More information can be found at https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng5/chapter/introduction