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Easy-to-swallow prescription precautions

If you take many different medications, you may not find it easy to remember what to take and when. Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, antacids and vitamins, often provide effective relief, but they can also pose some risks. Mixing incompatible drugs or overdosing by taking too much of a drug may cause adverse reactions.

Drugs can affect your body differently as you age. For example, your liver and kidneys may be less capable of metabolizing various medications, so your doctor may need to adjust your drug dosages to maximize benefits and minimize side effects.

If you overdose on a medication or mix it improperly with another, you may experience symptoms ranging from mild upset stomach and diarrhea to blurred vision, dizziness, skin rashes and the need for emergency medical care.

Play it safe

To avoid unwelcome surprises, here are some simple precautions to take:

  • Make sure your physician is aware of all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements.
  • Ask your doctor and pharmacist to tell you exactly how and when to take your medications and what side effects to expect, if any.
  • Keep your own drug diary to bring with you and update on doctors’ visits. Include dosage amounts, when and how you take your medications and what side effects you’ve experienced.
  • Read the labels before taking over-the-counter drugs.
  • Check the labels on your pharmacy prescriptions to be sure they’re exactly what the doctor ordered.
  • Never share prescriptions.

Managing your meds

Need a reminder to tell you when you should take your medicine? The latest memory joggers on the market are gadgets that will keep your medication organized and beep, buzz or blink when it’s time for you to take your pills.

Holders come in several varieties. They can carry a single pill or a day’s or week’s worth, making them convenient traveling companions. Certain manufacturers even supply their own holders with prepackaged pills appropriately labeled and ready to use one dose at a time.

Pocket timers and sporty wristwatches with alarms are also handy tools to alert you to pill-taking time. Still need a stronger nudge? You can hire medication minder services to send reminder messages to your e-mail address, beep you on your pager or call your cell or home phone.