How to Safely Take Multiple Medication

| Wednesday, October 19, 2011
By Agnes Baker

If you are like me, chances are you are currently taking many medications, all for various reasons. I had pills for heart disease, diabetes, cholesterol, the prevention of deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the veins), chest pain, name it, I was probably taking it. It was only until my granddaughter visited me. She was fresh from nursing school. She decided to gather all my medications. I couldn't see what the point was; after all, they were all prescribed by doctors so it meant they weren't bad! I wasn't aware then of the dangers of taking multiple medications. I was not aware that medications interact with one another, or that side effects could be quite harmful. Here is a list of things you should do if you are taking multiple medicatons:

1. Write down each and every one of them, in a list form: Take note especially of the generic name. If there are similar drugs, highlight/underline them. The reason? Overmedication can occur. Sometimes one physician will prescribe a drug, but call it by its brand name. Another physician will prescribe a different drug. All this time you thought they were different, only to find out they are the same drug, just with different brand names. This can happen especially when you go to different health care providers.

2. Get a drug handbook: This is a handy reference that focuses on the different medications available on the market. You can buy this at a bookstore or borrow at a public library. Take note first of the "indication," meaning the reason why you are taking the medicine. Think about your conditions. Do all of the medications jive with your current health status? Be careful about taking medications that you no longer may need!

3. In your drug handbook, look at the side effects of your medication: This will guide you to changes that may happen as a result of the medications you are taking. Do you feel drowsy after taking, say, cetirizine? Cetirizine is an anti-allergy drug that may cause drowsiness. This means that you probably shouldn't drive after taking it.

4. Use only one pharmacy as much as possible: This is to reduce the doubling of medications.

5. Use a medication cassette: This is to prevent errors in taking medication.

6. When consulting with your health care provider, provide them with a list of all the medications you are currently taking: Do not hesitate to ask questions. Remember, it is your health at stake! It is their job to educate you and to make sure that you are taking the right drug, at the right time, using the right route, at the right dose!

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