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Bad reactions to prescription and over-the-counter medicine kill about 100,000 Americans each year. Help lower your risk of having a bad reaction to medicines by following the suggestions listed below.

  • Prepare for your doctor visit.
    • Before you go to the doctor, write down your medical history, the medications you are currently taking, dietary supplements you are taking and allergic reactions to medicines.
  • Make sure you can read what the doctor wrote on your prescription.
    • Before you leave your doctor, make sure you can read the prescription.
    • If you know what your doctor has prescribed, you will know if the pharmacy gives you the wrong medications.
  • Be clear on how you take your medicine.
    • Ask you doctor or pharmacist how much to take and how often to take it.
  • Look over the prescription before you leave the pharmacy.
    • Sometimes, the pharmacy makes mistakes. It is important to catch the mistake before you take the medicine.
  • Be aware of side effects and bad reactions.
    • If you think you are having a bad reaction or are experiencing a side effect, see your doctor immediately.
  • Store your medicine in a cool, dry place.
    • Most people store their medicine in the bathroom.
      • The bathroom is often not the best place to store medicine.
      • Heat and moisture can make it less effective.
  • Know which medicines interact negatively with others.
    • Tell your doctor the medications you are currently taking so you won’t be given something that will negatively interact with other medicines.

If not used in properly, medicine can make you sick. One of the best ways use medicine safely is to understand what your medicines are treating. Below is a sample list of things to do while taking medicine.

  • Ask your doctor and your pharmacist for the exact times you should take a medicine.
  • Ask your doctor and pharmacist what effects-good and bad-to expect.
  • Tell each doctor you see, and your pharmacist, about other medicines you’re taking, both prescription and over-the-counter.
    • This is important because some cause side effects when they are taken with other medications.
  • Make a list of the name of each drug and a daily schedule of doses.
  • Put a check on the list each time you take the medicine.
    • Do this so you won’t take two doses of the same medicine.
  • Follow the directions on the label.
    • Do not take more or less than directed.
  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist if a medicine gives you new symptoms or makes you feel worse.
  • When you take antibiotics: Take all of it, even if you start feeling better before all the pills are gone.
    • If you stop taking the medication too early, infections often come back.
  • Never start or stop taking a medicine without telling your doctor.
  • Never take medicine prescribed for someone else.
  • Never share your medicines with anyone else.
  • Throw out medicine if the label date says that it has expired.