Taking Medications at Home

 

A woman with asthma stopped by a pharmacy to talk with a pharmacist about her Pulmicort Flexhaler (budesonide inhalation powder). After trying many times to take her medicine, the woman said it felt like the inhaler was not working. The inhaler keeps track of how many doses are left (see photo). But the number on the dose counter did not seem to be moving.

Consumers as well as some health professionals may not know that most medicine patches should never be cut before being applied to the skin. Patches are designed to give a constant amount of medicine over a certain period of time, which may range from several hours to a month. The medicine reaches your body by going through the blood vessels under your skin. If the patch is cut, the medicine in each half of the patch might be released too quickly, leading to a serious overdose.

Reports show that seniors are at an increased risk for poisoning. Some experts estimate that half of all seniors mismanage at least one of their medications and that seniors are twice as likely as other patients to present to the emergency room as a result of drug safety issues, such as, confusion over multiple medications, skipped doses, or variances from recommended doses.

An estrogen patch automatically releases the proper dose of medicine over a defined period of time, usually several days.However, women should know that sunbathing with a patch on may speed up how much medicine enters the body. For example, one woman experienced hot flashes after several days of suntanning while wearing Climara, a once-a-week estrogen (estradiol) patch.

A man was awakened by a toothache in the middle of the night. Without turning on the lights, he pulled out and applied what he thought was a spray of pain reliever for his toothache. Afterwards, he did not rinse his mouth. In the daylight of the morning, he realized he had actually used Lamisil AT Pump Spray in his mouth.

One of the most common causes of poisoning among seniors is accidental medication overdose. Statistics show that while adults over 65 years of age represent only 13 percent of the total population, they consume more than 30 percent of all prescribed medications and 40 percent of all over-the-counter medications.

My elderly mother has a hard time swallowing her medicine. Can I just crush her pills and mix them into her food? Or can she chew them? That depends on what she is taking. Some medicines are specially prepared to deliver the medicine to your body slowly, over time.

Many medicines come in different strengths. For example, a medicine may come in both a 10 mg and a 20 mg tablet. Surprisingly, the higher dose often costs about the same as the lower dose. If the medicine is too expensive for some people, doctors may prescribe the higher dose and direct them to take half a tablet for each dose. However, splitting tablets may be risky for several reasons.

Are you taking charge of your medicines? If not, you can be putting your health at risk. Proper medication administration is a three tier effort that includes your physician, your pharmacist and yourself. Knowing about the drugs you take today can save you a lot of grief tomorrow.

Some medicines come as a nasal spray. While a spray in each nostril is the typical way to take a single dose, there are some exceptions. Some medicines are meant to be given as a single spray into one nostril for each dose. One prime example is calcitonin salmon (Fortical or Micalcin), a medicine used to treat women with osteoporosis (bone thinning) after menopause.

Medication Safety Alerts

FDA Safety Alerts

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