(RxWiki News) A lot of us take multiple medications, often combining prescription and over-the-counter medicines with vitamins and herbal supplements. While medications are important for staying healthy, sometimes taking certain medications together can cause serious side effects.
Taking all your medicines safely can get confusing. Arming yourself with information about your medications and supplements can help you prevent unnecessary, life-threatening mishaps.
Keep a list of your medications with you at all times. You never know when this information might be needed, whether it be for a simple trip to the pharmacy or in case of a medical emergency.
Make sure to include on the list the brand and generic names of your prescription and over-the-counter medications, along with how much of each drug you take and how often you take it. Here is an example:
- Aldactone (spironolactone) 25 mg daily
- Zyrtec (cetirizine hydrochloride) 10 mg daily
- Tylenol (acetaminophen) 500 mg as needed
Do not forget to include all vitamins and supplements on your list of medications. They too can interfere with prescription medications. Whenever possible, jot down the dosage and frequency of each of the supplements you take. Again, here is an example:
- Vitamin D3 2,000 IU daily
- Melatonin 3 mg before bedtime when needed
Sometimes a dietary supplement combines several vitamins or herbs into one capsule or tablet. While it may make your list a bit longer, consider listing the key ingredients in any combination supplement you take, along with the dosage of each ingredient per tablet or capsule. For example, a vitamin B complex tablet contains the following ingredients:
Once you have your list put together and typed, print several copies that you can give to every one of your health care providers, regardless if he or she prescribes new medications or suggests dosage changes. Do not forget that your pharmacist is a key part of your health care team too and should definitely have a copy of the list.
If your pharmacy app has a place to include a list of all of your medications, take advantage of this feature. If you are like most people, you always have your phone with you so if you ever need to refer to your medication profile, it will be on your phone when you need it.
To avoid confusion, both for yourself and any person who might need to treat you in an emergency, never mix medications in the same bottle, even when traveling.
If you are thinking of buying a new vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement or adding an over-the-counter medication to your regimen, ask your doctor or pharmacist first. He or she can make sure that the medication or supplement won’t interact with your existing medications and that the new product is appropriate for you. Never take a new medication or supplement based on a friend’s or family member’s personal testimony.
Also, do not be fooled by advertising for medications in an article you see in a magazine or after hearing about it on a TV news program or talk show. When you hear about a new medication or supplement, ask yourself, “Is this too good to be true?” Your local pharmacist is a great resource for you and can help determine the validity of these medications/supplements.