In today’s population, many people take a variety of medications, both prescription and over the counter, for a number of different ailments or conditions. It is important for patients to be familiar with the medications they are taking in order to avoid adverse reactions or side effects. Below are four of the most important things to remember when taking your medication to ensure safety.

Check the packaging

When you receive your prescription, whether it is from a retail storefront or an online drugstore, check the packaging as well as the patient information and the label that is attached to the bottle itself. All of the information provided should match – the drug name, the strength, the dosage, and the amount dispensed. For daily or maintenance medications, open the bottle to verify that the medication is the same shape, color, and size as your previous prescription. Pharmacies may substitute generic medications, which may look different than their brand name equivalents. If there are any discrepancies, contact the dispensing pharmacy.


Current list of medications

Make sure your pharmacy has a current list of all of the medications you are currently taking. Online drugstores maintain a database of all previously filled prescriptions and alerts can trigger if there are contraindications to one or more current medications. They may also have their patient information available online, which can be printed out and kept at home for reference. These information sheets can also be given to your physician so that he or she is aware of medications that may have been prescribed by other physicians.

Ensure that each medication’s directions are being followed appropriately with regards to dosage and time of administration. For those who are on multiple medications with different dosing times, a pill organizer may help with keeping track of them. Many organizers can be prefilled with a week’s worth of medications or more, making it easy to take the correct pills at the right time. For those who have difficulty, a trusted adult can assist with pill organization to ensure that they are taken correctly.

Know why you’re taking it

It is also important to know why you are taking a specific medication. If you are not familiar with the drug, ask your physician or pharmacist to explain what the drug is for and how it works to treat the symptom or condition. This will avoid confusion and ensure that continuity of care is maintained with multiple physicians or appointments.

By following these tips, patients can rest assured that they are taking their medications safely and effectively.

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