1: Know Your Drugs
Seriously. I can't tell you how many times someone has called and said they need their little white pill. Umm, that could be about a thousand different drugs. Try to learn the name. It's not extremely necessary, but it's helpful. However, we know that some of them can be hard to pronounce. At the very least know what it's for. If you call up and say you need your blood pressure pill and I say "you're lisinopril?" A good answer is "Yes, that's it." Not "I dunno"
Plus, it's important to know what you're on if you ever have to go to the hospital.
2: Know When to Take Your Medicine
Depending on which medications you are on, timing can be important.
- Some meds need to have food to work properly- Calcium needs the acid in your stomach to break down correctly, so you need to take it with food
- Other meds need an empty stomach- Prevacid needs to be taken 30 min before meals
- Other meds work better at night- like most cholesterol meds - but not all of them so you need to ask!
- Some need to be taken in the morning - Fosamax needs to be taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach with a full glass of tap water (yes, tap water)
- Others need to be taken at the same time every day -birth control pills work much better --especially as we age-- if you stay right around 24hrs apart
3: Know What to Avoid While On Your Medicine
These can vary greatly depending on what meds you are taking. Some you need to totally avoid, some you only need to separate by a couple hours. The list is pretty long, but here are some common pitfalls:
- Grapefruit juice needs to be totally avoided if it interacts with your medicine, not just separated by a couple hours.
- Antacids need to be separated by a couple hours if you are on some antibiotics
- Alcohol is a tricky one. Many labels say to avoid it, but some are more serious than others. Confused? Ask your pharmacist!
- Smoking can be dangerous with some medications, mainly estrogens. Seriously, you could die.
4:Know What to Expect From Your Meds
It's important to know what kinds of side effects might occur when you start a new medication. This is especially true with kids. Again, side effects will vary. Some will last the whole time you are on the medication and some will ease up once your body gets used to it. Here are just a couple examples:
- Omnicef, an antibiotic, will make your childs poo reddish in color. That can be scary if you aren't expecting it!
- Steroids can increase your heart rate. Again, scary if you don't know it's gonna happen.
- Ambien will make you fall asleep -- DO NOT try to drive after you take it!