Staying Safe with Medications at Home

Health & FitnessMedicine

  • Author Lauren Smith
  • Published March 23, 2024
  • Word count 475

Taking medications safely is important, whether they are prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicines like aspirin. This article will discuss tips to help you and your family use medications wisely and avoid problems.

Storing Medications Properly

How you store medicines in your home matters. Follow these recommendations:

Keep all medications in original containers. Never transfer to a different container that doesn't have the important label information.

Store in cool, dry places. Avoid humid bathrooms or places near windows with direct sunlight. Heat and moisture can affect drugs.

Keep out of children's reach. Find high, locked cabinets for medication storage. Consider products like child-proof locks. Safety first!

Don't use after expiration. Discard expired medicines safely. Potency and chemical makeup can change over time.

Watch refrigerated items. If a medication needs refrigeration, be sure to store it properly to maintain effectiveness.

Taking Medications as Directed

Always take medications exactly as prescribed or according to instructions:

Follow prescription instructions. Take the correct dose at the right times. Call your doctor with any questions.

Don't adjust the dose yourself. Even if symptoms improve, stick to the prescribed amount without increasing or decreasing.

Finish the full course. Stopping antibiotics halfway through, for example, can cause bigger problems.

Space doses evenly. Setting phone alerts can help remind you of medications needing multiple evenly spaced doses per day.

Watch for interactions. Tell doctors about ALL medications, vitamins, herbs and supplements you take. Some combinations are unsafe.

Safely Disposing of Medications

It's important to properly dispose of unused medications rather than keeping unnecessary ones around the home. Here are tips for safe disposal:

Take advantage of take-back programs. Many pharmacies have programs allowing you to bring unused medicines for proper disposal.

Mix drugs with unappealing substances. For disposal at home, mix medications with dirt, cat litter or used coffee grounds before putting in the trash.

Scratch out personal information on labels. Use permanent marker to hide your name and prescription details before disposal.

Flush only when necessary. Follow FDA guidelines on which medications can be flushed down the toilet due to toxicity or abuse risks.

Use Caution with OTC Medicines

Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines from pharmacies don't require prescriptions, but still need to be used carefully:

Read labels closely. Follow dosage directions carefully, especially for children. Measure doses properly.

Watch for side effects. Stop use and call your doctor if rashes, excessive nausea or other abnormal effects develop.

Consult about combinations. Before taking multiple OTC meds together, ask your pharmacist or doctor about possible interactions.

Inform doctors. Always let your healthcare providers know about any OTC medicines, herbal supplements or vitamins you take regularly.

The bathroom medicine cabinet can be dangerous if medications aren't stored and handled properly. Take steps to keep your family safe and healthy! Let your pharmacist or doctor know if you have any other questions about using medications wisely at home.

Lauren Smith is a licensed pharmacist in the US and also the Head reviewer at BigPharmOnline. A website that provides reliable information on medications.

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