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Taking Prescription Medications
Learning About Your Medications
- Why am I taking the medication?
- How long will it take to start working?
- How long will I have to take it?
- Can my pharmacist substitute a generic form?
- How should I store the medication?
- What time of day should I take it?
- Should I take the medication with food?
- Should I avoid any foods, beverages, other medications, herbs, or dietary supplements while I am taking the medication?
- Are there certain activities I should avoid while taking the medication (eg, driving)?
- What side effects are associated with the medication? Should I call you if I experience them?
- What should I do if I forget to take a dose?
Storing Your Medications Safely
Avoiding Drug Interactions
- Drug-drug interactions—two or more drugs react with each other; these may include prescription or over-the-counter medications
- Drug-food/beverage interactions—a drug reacts with a food or beverage
- Drug-herb interaction—a drug reacts with an herb or other dietary supplement
- Drug-condition interactions—a medical condition causes a drug to be dangerous
Traveling With Medications
- Find out if your medication can cause increased sensitivity to sunlight. If it can, avoid excessive sun exposure and use sunscreen with the sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
- Pack your medications in your carry-on luggage during air, train, or bus travel. This way you will have access to them during travel, as well as at your destination, even if your luggage is lost or stolen.
- If you take medications that require a syringe, take copies of your prescriptions with you to ensure that you can pass through airport security.
- If you are traveling out of your time zone, ask your pharmacist for tips on how to adjust your medication routine.
- Keep your medications stored in cool, dry climates. Avoid storing them in checked baggage or glove compartments.
- Take extra medication with you on your trip in case you experience an unexpected delay. Do not count on being able to simply fill the prescription at your destination, particularly if you’re traveling overseas.
Special Considerations for Children
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality http://www.ahrq.gov
US Food and Drug Information http://www.fda.gov/
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Healthy Alberta http://www.healthyalberta.com/
Buying prescription medicine online: a consumer safety guide. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/ucm080588.htm. Updated May 4, 2012. Accessed August 11, 2012.
Drug interactions: what you should know. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/ucm163354.htm. Updated July 19, 2012. Accessed August 11, 2012.
Taking medicines. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/takingmedicines/toc.html. Updated January 2011. Accessed August 11, 2012.
Buying & using medicine safely. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/default.htm. Updated August 9, 2012. Accessed August 11, 2012.
Your medicine: Be smart. Be safe. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/safemeds/yourmeds.htm. Updated May 2011. Accessed August 11, 2012.
- Reviewer: Brian P. Randall, MD
- Review Date: 08/2012