April 17, 2019

Spring Cleaning: Medication Safety

Spring is a time for new beginnings. Its the time of year when many people "spring clean" their homes or cars. Spring cleaning is not just for our closets or storage areas. Now is a great time to review your medicine cabinet and clean out any unused or unneeded medications. Make sure medications are properly stored. Temperatures to hot or too cold can cause the ingredients to become deactivated. Most medications expire after a year and can become toxic if taken after the expiration date. Contact your local DEA to find information on discarding medicine. Make a list of the medications you take including herbs, vitamins and over the counter medicines. The list should include the five rights: the medicine name, the dose ( mg or ml), how many pills, when do you take them, and why. Its important to have this information when visiting a doctor. The more informed you are as a patient the better decisions your physician will make when making changes to your regimen. There are medications that interact negatively with other medicines, food, and even liquids. Herbs and vitamins are known as healthy but can adversely effect your body when taken with some medications. Review the side effects of medicines and discuss with your doctor or pharmacist. Some side effects become intolerable and can be labeled as an allergy so that it is not prescribed again in the future. On your medication list include medications that are intolerable or an allergy. An medication allergy is usually described as an reaction of the immune system and includes hives, fever, rash, swelling. Severe medication allergies can be life threatening. Ask the doctor or pharmacist how and when is the best time to take your medications. Some medicines need an empty stomach and some with food. Most medications should be taken with a full glass of water to assist in absorption. Keep medications in their original container. The doctor, nurse or pharmacist are your best resources to discuss your medication regimen, alternatives and the disease it was prescribed for. Spring time is not only a reminder to update and reorder our homes but also to review better ways to maintain and improve our health.

Nicole B. Patterson RN BSN