According to the American Pharmaceutical Association, the mistakes we make with our medications are skyrocketing. So here’s what your pharmacist wants you to know.
First, know this: “Over the counter” does not mean “all you can eat!” The FDA trusts us to read labels and take the recommended dosage – but men in particular assume that if a drug is available without a prescription, it’s not dangerous. So they’ll pop a handful of Advils without thinking about it. But too much ibuprofen, which is the ingredient in Advil, can cause acute kidney failure. Too much Tylenol, which is acetaminophen, can cause liver damage. So read the labels – and if you’re taking a few medications, like cough medicine and pain medicine – be careful, because you could be doubling up on the same meds. If you’re unsure, talk to the pharmacist.
Another thing you need to know about meds, you may not need them. Take a medicine that’s a cough suppressant and expectorant, which loosens phlegm. But what good is loosening phlegm if you can’t cough it up? The experts say medicines that do several things are unnecessary.
Just take a medicine that does the one thing you need it to. If you have a cough, take a cough suppressant only and drink water to loosen your phlegm.
And the last lesson from pharmacists is – don’t over do it. Just because you have occasional heartburn doesn’t mean you need to pop Prilosec every day. That’s for people with chronic heartburn. If you start popping one every day, when you stop, you’ll have rebound acid that never goes away. So you WILL need to start popping a pill every day. So don’t start to begin with unless your doctor recommends it. You may just need a Tums.