Make the Most of Your Medications

Today’s medicines treat a wide range of ailments— from chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes, to shortterm problems such as infections and rashes. However, the effectiveness and safety of any medication depends on proper
use and storage. Here are answers to some common questions.

What’s the best way to store medicines?

While most bathrooms have a medicine cabinet, that may actually be the worst place to store medications. The warmth and moisture of a bathroom can alter the composition of medicines, making them less effective or even harmful. Instead, choose a cool, dry storage place that is also out of reach of children.

If I forget to take my medication, should I double the dose the next time?

Always ask your doctor what to do if you miss a dose. To help you remember to take your medication on schedule, put a reminder in your cell phone calendar or add it to
your daily schedule. You might also consider using a pill organizer, which features compartments to hold and group your medicines together.

It’s important to take your medicine exactly as directed. Taking too much or too little can harm your health. For example, skipping doses of a high blood pressure drug can
result in your blood pressure rising. Taking more than the prescribed dose of a medication could cause side effects—or worse, a life-threatening overdose.

The directions on the bottle say to avoid certain foods. Why is that necessary?

Certain foods or beverages can actually interact with a drug, which can alter the way the medicine works or is absorbed in your body. For example, drinking grapefruit juice when taking certain cholesterol-lowering medicines can heighten the effect of the drug—which may increase side effects.

It’s important to read all information that comes with your prescription. Doing so will help you understand what foods, other medicines or activities to avoid when taking the medicine.

My medicine expired last year. Is it still safe to take?

It may still be safe to take it, but that doesn’t mean you should. Some medications remain potent after their expiration date, but others don’t. Your best bet is to ask your doctor about renewing your prescription—or consult your pharmacist.

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