Taking Medications at Home

 

Patients who keep an EpiPen on hand in case of a severe allergic attack need to know about a potentially dangerous mix-up between the actual pen and a similar looking training pen.

A nurse visited a homebound woman who continued to have high blood sugar levels despite doubling her insulin dose for about 2 weeks. The nurse questioned the woman about factors that may be causing the sudden need for more insulin. The woman had been eating her usual diet. She had no signs of infection or decrease in physical activity. She was sleeping well, and there was no new stress in her life. The technique and materials she used to test her blood sugar were appropriate. Any one of these factors could influence the dose of insulin required to keep her blood sugar under control, but nothing unusual was discovered.

Most pills you need to swallow are available commercially in the dosage strengths commonly prescribed for patients. Or, if need be, a liquid or suspension might be available. But this is not always the case. Occasionally, the exact dose of medication you need is not available commercially, so part of a tablet or capsule may be needed.

Inhalers are devices that contain medicines used to treat asthma and several other diseases that affect the lungs. By inhaling the medicine from the device, asthma sufferers and people with other lung diseases can breathe easier. It is important to learn how to properly use an inhaler and when to use it. This is especially true for people with asthma. Asthma is a breathing condition that affects both children and adults. Many people often need more than one medicine/inhaler to treat their asthma.

Are you using eye drops to help relieve your sore eyes? If you overuse eye drops that contain decongestants (ingredients that shrink swollen blood vessels) such as naphazoline, tetrahydrozoline, or phenylephrine, it could lead to conjunctivitis--swollen, red, sore eyes with a liquid discharge. It could take weeks for this condition to clear up. Use your eye drops as directed on the label, or your red eyes may actually worsen.

Many injectable medicines are now available in devices that look like pens (see Figure 1). Pen injectors offer consumers a reliable way to give themselves injectable medicines. In some pen styles, the cap is removed and a small needle is attached. The pens are already filled with medicine. Measuring the right dose can be as easy as turning a dial on the pen.

After using his albuterol inhaler, an asthmatic man began to cough uncontrollably. Instead of the medicine making it easier for him to breathe, he felt like something was stuck in his breathing passages. An X-ray at a clinic confirmed that there was a coin in his windpipe and a dime that had to be removed through a tube inserted down his throat.

Have you ever heard that drinking grapefruit juice can interfere with certain medicines? This is true. But, do you know why and which medicines you shouldn't combine with grapefruit juice?

Combining certain medicines for migraine headaches with certain types of antidepressants may result in a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome.

Do you carefully read the label on your prescription bottle and look at the tablets before you take a dose of a new or refilled prescription medicine? Well, a 95-year-old woman did, and it helped to prevent a potentially serious mistake. Her doctor had recently increased the dose of her thyroid medicine. When she needed a refill, a staff person at her doctor's office mistakenly told the pharmacist to dispense the lower dose she had taken previously.

Medication Safety Alerts

FDA Safety Alerts

Show Your Support!

ISMP needs your help to continue our life saving work