1. Educate yourself when taking a new prescription.

    Listen to your pharmacist and make sure you are clear about: what the drug does; how and when to take it; if it clashes with alcohol, caffeine, foods, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, smoking; how it might affect your sleep, ability to drive, other activities; and what to do if you miss a dose. If you are uncomfortable asking questions, bring someone along to speak for

  2. Follow these safety measures, offered by Schupp to help clients prevent drug interactions and/or deal with side effects:
    • Always complete a course of antibiotics. Failure to do so, even if feeling better, does not insure the infection has been adequately treated. It will reoccur making you sicker and subsequent drugs will have a harder time because the infection’s resistance to antibiotics will be stronger.
    • If you are experiencing truly severe side effects, go to the ER where antidotes to negate the effects of the drug are available.
    • If you are taking a new drug and experiencing worrisome side effects call your pharmacist who can help you filter out what side effect is common and what might require a visit to the ER. Pharmacists are easy to reach and can deliver expanded service, being available on Saturdays and Sundays.
    • You can also call your doctor or speak to someone on call. Pharmacists and doctors can counsel you about whether to stop the medication right away. Even if you do, you will not have instant relief as it takes time for drugs to clear your body.
    • When you substitute a generic for a brand-name medication and experience side effects, ask about fillers or inert ingredients like gluten, lactose, and coloring agents that could be causing an allergic reaction or side effect.
    • Discovering the origin of side effects is most difficult when you are discharged from the hospital with a variety of new drugs. Working with your doctor and pharmacist is the only way to discover which drug might be causing the problem.
    • You cannot just stop some drugs. Doing that might cause you more harm than dealing with the side effects. Discuss the situation with your physician. You might have to bear the side effects until an adjustment of some kind can be made.
    • Give your doctor a list of every medication, vitamin and herbal that you are taking. Even some foods, like grapefruit juice, inhibit substances in your body that metabolize medications. This is true for statin drugs that are used to treat high cholesterol. You can do what some doctors call the “paper bag test” where you bring all your meds in a paper bag for each office visit. Or you can create a file in your computer of everything you take and print out a copy each time you have an appointment with a health professional

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