4 medication mistakes to avoid

February 16, 2017

Are you doing the right things to make your medicines work for you?iStock-518023438.jpg

The medicines your doctor prescribes are meant to improve your health. But you could be making risky mistakes without even realizing it.

Here are four potential pitfalls you want to avoid:

1. You fail to speak up. Did your doctor say to take your medicine before-or after-meals? Don't guess when it comes to your medicine. A wrong choice could make a drug less effective or cause serious problems.

Always ask your doctor or pharmacist questions if you don't understand something about your medications. You can also request that he or she write information down for you.

2. You use multiple pharmacies. Getting all of your prescriptions filled at just one pharmacy helps protect your health. Your medication records will be in a single place. This can help the pharmacist spot any possible dangerous interactions between your medications.

3. You overlook instructions. When a medicine isn't taken exactly as directed, it may do more harm than good. Always read the information that comes with a medicine-and follow your doctor's or pharmacist's advice for taking it.

If you have a hard time remembering when to take your medicine, keep a written or computerized schedule. Or link taking the medications with daily activities, such as eating a meal or going to bed.

4. You don't stay the course. It's important to stick with a medication unless your doctor tells you it's OK to stop. Don't stop taking a drug just because:

• You feel better and think you don't need it anymore. Let your doctor make that decision.

• You're having bothersome side effects. Call your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe a different drug with fewer side effects.

• You're struggling to pay for it. If you can't afford a medication, ask your doctor about generic drugs or other lower-cost options.

Sources: National Library of Medicine; U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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