Importance of Following Your Prescription

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Too much of anything is not a good thing — even vitamins — and the threat of overdosing is ever present. You may not intentionally overdose on pills, or you may feel that one extra supplement or pill will do no harm. However, the Mayo Clinic points out that too much vitamin C can result in stomach cramps, diarrhea and nausea, while too much selenium can cause stomach pains, mild nerve damage, drowsiness and even hair loss. And those are just vitamins! Overdosing on actual prescription medication, intentional or not, can lead to much more serious side effects or cause death.

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Taking Your Medications Properly

It’s vital to take the medications you’ve been prescribed in the correct dosages. This helps you to avoid accidental overdose and potentially harmful side effects. The Cleveland Clinic recommends keeping a list of all your medicines handy — not just prescription meds but OTC meds, dietary supplements and vitamins. Some medications can react when taken together, so you’ll want to ensure that you aren’t taking any medicines not approved by your doctor. Double check with the pharmacist when you pick up your prescriptions and verify there are no dangerous interactions between them.

Some medications require that you wear a medical ID bracelet in case of emergency. It’s a good idea to purchase a pill box separated into days of the week. Take your pills at the same time each day, in the formulation prescribed by your doctor. Read those labels carefully and take the pills with food if necessary to avoid upset stomach. If the medication is in pill form, don’t crush the tablets or break them in two unless directed to do so. Drink all pills with plenty of water, and never share your medicine with anyone. Don’t skip doses or make up for missed doses unless instructed by your doctor. On the same note, don’t suddenly stop taking your medicines without making a call to your doctor. Some people, particularly the elderly, may do this in an attempt to save money. However, you won’t get the full benefit of your medication when you do this, and the end result can be deadly. When you want to start a new diet or take new vitamins or supplements, visit with your doctor to ensure it is a healthy option for you.

Dangerous Repercussions

Failing to take the right doses of your medication can have deadly repercussions. More Americans today die from overdosing on prescription pain killers like Vicodin and OxyContin than heroin and cocaine combined, according to a CDC study cited in USA Today. Even overdosing on blood pressure medication, such as beta blockers, can lead to an irregular heartbeat, convulsions, nervousness, blurred vision, breathing difficulties, excess perspiration and even heart failure, says the National Institutes of Health.

Solutions

Taking the right doses of your medication is crucial in avoiding dangerous health side effects. To keep track of your medication needs, the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends filling your prescription at the same pharmacy every time. This helps to keep better track of your medication needs and possible interactions. Develop a habit with your pharmacist to go over your medication list periodically. Sometimes you can request color-coded labels on your prescription bottles to help you differentiate between them. You can even set up email alerts or phone messages with your pharmacy to get reminders of when you need to refill your prescription.