Not counting the medical products that are available over-the-counter from pharmacies, there are several thousand different preparations that your doctor could prescribe for you. Each of these drugs will have cost millions of dollars during development, and will also have been subjected to rigorous examination by the Food and Drug Agency (FDA).
When storing medication at home it is best to keep them all in one place, ideally in a lockable wall cabinet. It should be in a dry, cool place, out of the reach of children.
Most drugs can be stored at room temperature, but there are a few that should be placed in a refrigerator. Drugs in this category include some eye and ear drops and insulin (used to treat
diabetes) All other drugs should be locked away out of the reach of the children. If several members of the household are taking medication on a regular basis, each person should store his drugs separately.
It is vital to read the instructions advising how a drug should be taken before the first dose is administered. Although some medication still comes in small, childproof bottles labeled with dosage and special instructions or precautions, many now come as a standard manufacturer’s pack. This pack will, by law, contain a leaflet advising the dose to be taken as well as all aspects of special instructions, side effects, and guidance on dealing with accidental overdose. If the instructions are still not clear, seek advice from your pharmacist or doctor.
COMPLETING THE COURSE
There are a number of instructions that are common to several groups of drugs. In case of antibiotics, short courses of steroids, and drugs to cure stomach ulcers it is essential that the full course of the medication is taken. This is to ensure that the complete effect of the drug is experienced, because symptoms will often go half-way through treatment. If medication is stopped early, partially treated conditions are likely to recur.
Similarly, many drugs for the treatment of long-standing conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, or asthma should not be stopped by a patient unless he has been instructed to de so by a doctor. Some of these medical problems, in particular, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, have no symptoms but are being treated to reduce the risk of future heart attacks and strokes. A patient who stops taking prescribed drugs in these conditions will not be fully aware of the potential danger he is facing because he will feel well.
TAKING THE DIFFERENT MEDICATION
Many people have to take a number of different drugs every day. Generally, it is safe to take a variety of medications at the same time, but there are some groups that should be kept apart if possible because they might interfere with the way the drugs are absorbed in the stomach. When in doubt, ask your pharmacist for help. Always tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any over-the-counter or complementary therapies for your condition.
There are several classes of medication that may cause drowsiness or sedation, and it is important that a person taking these types of drugs should not drive. Among the remedies that can have this effect are some antihistamines (for allergy), strong analgesics, and antidepressants. The sedative effect of these drugs can be made worse by alcohol, which should be avoided.