It is very important to know how to take medicine correctly as you will not only preserve the full benefit of your valuable medicine, but also save yourself from potential side-effects.
For many reasons, no prescription or over-the-counter drug is 100 percent effective in all people or situations. Drugs are tested on average populations, but we are all unique. Diet can drastically change the way a drug works. For example, dairy products and alcohol interfere with some antibiotics. Salt consumption influences how the antidepressant Lithium is absorbed, and recently, drinking grapefruit juice was found to dangerously multiply the effect of some blood pressure medicines.
To preserve the full benefit of your medicines, experts say to follow these key steps:
Ask for Help
Discuss drug effectiveness with a doctor before getting a prescription. The doctor can help you decipher effectiveness data in product circulars that are included in drug packaging. You can also consult a pharmacist when buying over-the-counter medications.
Never store aspirin in the bathroom medicine cabinet or the refrigerator. That’s because aspirin, like other drugs, can lose effectiveness in humid conditions. Most prescription drugs today come with colorful labels giving special storage instructions, as when refrigeration is necessary. Also, some drugs, such as the antibiotic tetracycline, become ineffective when exposed to sunlight.
Know How Long to Use Medicine
The human body is very smart. It doesn’t like any foreign chemical. That’s why the body builds up tolerance to many drugs, particularly narcotics, such as some sleeping pills, and pain medications, such as oxycodone (Percocet and Percodan), Codeine (Tylenol No. 3) and hydrocodone (Vicoden and Lortab). If a drug that once was effective no longer seems to help you, consult a doctor before increasing the dosage.
Take the Pill Correctly
Crushing or cutting a sustained-release pill can make a drug ineffective or even dangerous. That’s because it delivers “dose dumping” – too large a dose of a medicine meant to be distributed slowly. Also avoid emptying capsules into drinks or food.
Use Medicine at the Right Time of Day
The packaging of the anti-wrinkle prescription medication Renova (an emollient version of the anti-acne medication Retin-A) recommends applying the product at night. The active drug can be decomposed by sunlight. Also, applying two medicines to your skin at the same time might cause interactions that render them both ineffective. Spacing doses of medicine as directed and taking drugs at recommended times, such as before meals, can increase absorption.
Throw Out Old Pills
Over time, many drugs experience chemical changes. So pay attention to expiration dates listed on labels, or ask your pharmacist about a drug’s shelf life. As you can see, taking medicine correctly is very important for many reasons, so make sure you follow these tips.