Taking Medications at Home

 

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.

Mixing medications can have lethal consequences. This issue is of particular importance to seniors and their caregivers. Painkillers are the major cause of poisoning deaths when taken in excess or in combination with other drugs which also suppress respiration.

The National Center for Education Statistics found that most adults need help to understand information about their health and medicines. This has nothing to do with a person's ability to read or write. In fact, people who don't understand health information are often highly intelligent and skilled in other areas that might be difficult for medical people to understand. It's just that health information is often explained and written in a way that is different from how non-medical people talk and think.

People who take certain medicines for blood pressure or heart rhythm problems, have for years been told not to drink grapefruit juice. This is because the grapefruit juice seriously disrupts the normal rate at which those medicines get into the blood stream. That disruption can result in both over-dosing and under-dosing.

Some medicines are supplied in patches that you apply to your skin. The medicine reaches your body by going through the blood vessels in your skin. If you warm your skin, it gets red because the blood vessels widen. The wider your blood vessels are, the more medicine your body absorbs. Warming your skin with heating pads or with lots of physical activity can cause too much medicine in the patch to be absorbed. This is especially dangerous when using patches that relieve pain.

Medication Safety Alerts

FDA Safety Alerts

Show Your Support!

ISMP needs your help to continue our life saving work