How To Take Medicine Safely

How To Take Medicine Safely.Medications are one of the most used therapeutic tools today. Its proper use allows the population to obtain enormous benefits in terms of alleviating or preventing diseases , improving the health status of sick people, or modifying physiological states.

How To Take Medicine Safely

To achieve correct use of the medication, there must be a balance between four basic objectives: maximize its effect, minimize the risk, respect the patient’s choice and minimize costs.

What is self-medication?

Currently, patients are more and better informed, which influences the decisions they make regarding their health. Therefore, it is convenient to define and distinguish between self-care and self-medication.

  • Self-care:refers to the care that a person provides to themselves to achieve a better quality of life and with the purpose of strengthening or restoring their health and preventing diseases. It includes everyday practices, such as sleep, nutrition or physical exercise; hygienic measures; and habits related to reducing the risk of suffering from a disease or preventing a disease itself. Self-care prioritizes changes in lifestyle based on the incorporation of a series of physical and nutritional habits that are as healthy as possible.
  • Self-medication:It is said that a person self-medicates when they take a medication by their own decision, without the intervention of a health professional, in order to alleviate a symptom or cure a disease (addictions and drug dependencies are excluded). This is a common practice in our society: the population groups that most habitually consume drugs on their own are women, young people and people who live alone, with a high educational and socioeconomic level and urban residence, according to different studies. However, self-medication is not exempt from risks, related to side effects, adverse reactions, or the lack or loss of efficacy of a medication (such as the generation of resistance to antibiotics, for example). Therefore, when any symptoms of illness appear,

What is the proper use of medications?

According to  the World Health Organization (WHO),  the appropriate use of medicines implies that the patient receives each medicine for the specific indication, in the correct dose, for the established time and at the lowest possible cost for him or her and for society. That is, using a medicine correctly to achieve its goal: to cure and repair people’s health. However,  we must also make rational use of drugs to avoid negative consequences, such as side effects, unwanted interactions or loss of effectiveness  (disease resistance), as well as to curb unnecessary personal, social and health costs.

According to data from the WHO itself, around  a third of the world’s population lacks access to essential medicines and 50% of patients take them incorrectly .

What are the most common errors in the use of medications?

Although the prescription of a medication depends on the doctor, and its dispensing depends on the pharmacist, the patient must be responsible for complying with the treatment and instructions given by health professionals. To do this, patients have to understand and accept the advice prescribed by the health professional from the point of view of lifestyle, as well as the prescribed pharmacological treatment itself.

To achieve better therapeutic adherence, or monitoring of drug intake, a negotiation of the treatment plan is necessary between the healthcare professional and the patient. This adherence will be achieved when there is the maximum coincidence between the guidelines given by the health professional and the implementation by the patient after reaching an agreement. For example, times when it is best for the person to take the drug, levels of exercise they should do, diets, etc.

The relevance of non-compliance with treatment has been studied especially in the context of very common diseases, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol problems or diabetes. For example, in vascular disease, it is estimated that there is a 39% abandonment of medications prescribed by the family doctor and 22% of those prescribed by specialists,  according to studies carried out in specific population groups.

In this sense, the most common failures when taking medication that prevent therapeutic adherence are related to:

  • Not following the schedulein which each dose must be taken. This is very important, because it is established to guarantee effectiveness.
  • Forget a dose. This can mean a total loss of effectiveness, for example in the recurrence of pain.
  • Not completing the duration of a treatmentbecause we think we feel better. For example, when we take an antibiotic, improvement appears after a few days but the infection has not been eliminated from our body.
  • Forget about medications when we travel. This happens especially in chronic diseases because we associate a trip with being on vacation and resting from medication, which is a serious mistake.
  • Stop taking chronic medicationso that our body ‘rest’.
  • Do not follow the recommendations for taking the drug in relation to meals. For example, sugar-lowering pills need to be taken half an hour before eating so that when we start eating, our blood sugar levels do not rise.
  • Not giving the doctor correct informationabout the symptoms or the medications we take, or failing to provide information. This is very common among older people who take two or three medications with different names for the same problem. This can lead to serious poisoning or drug interactions.
  • Recommend drugs to other peoplebecause they have worked well for us for similar symptoms. There are no diseases but patients, that is, the doctor adapts to each patient the therapy that he needs according to his characteristics.
  • Some factors that favor non-compliance are: lack of health education about the disease suffered; the complexity of the prescribed treatment; the poor healthcare professional-patient relationship; adverse reactions; and the lack of family, social and health support. Elderly patients are the largest consumers of prescription medications and constitute a group especially susceptible to poorer therapeutic adherence.

10 tips for using medications correctly

There are some general recommendations that we should all know and that help us when it comes to responsible and appropriate consumption of our medication:

  • Actively participate in what has to do with your medications.
    It is essential that citizens take part in decisions related to their health and illnesses, that they speak and consult their doubts with the doctor or pharmacist and, above all, that they understand and agree with the established treatment, including changes in their diet. exercise and other habits.
  • The doctor knows what you need.
    Our family doctor or the specialist that corresponds to our problem will be in charge of prescribing the medication that fits the ailment we suffer from or answering our questions about possible changes to one drug or another. What’s more, we must always follow their instructions and medication guidelines in terms of dosage and treatment and not suspend it without justified reason. It is best that the professional, in addition to giving information orally, also puts it in writing.
  • Always buy your medication at the pharmacy and trust the pharmacist.
    The pharmacy is the only place authorized in Spain to dispense medications. Purchasing medications in other establishments or on the Internet does not guarantee their safety and quality. We will also go to our usual apothecary to take expired medicines, so that they can be disposed of correctly. Furthermore, the pharmaceutical professional is the one who knows the medications best and will make informed dispensing, especially of drugs that do not require a medical prescription. The advice and advice of the pharmacist is essential for the correct use of medicines or to resolve doubts in this regard.
  • Read the leaflet carefully: know your medication.
    Before using the drug that has been prescribed to us, we must recognize and even learn its name, both generic and commercial; know when, how and for how long to take it; and the interactions it presents, which are foods, drinks and other medications that should be avoided when taking said product. It also doesn’t hurt to find out the consequences if you don’t follow the doctor’s instructions to the letter. To do this, read the leaflet carefully before starting to take the drug and also if you have doubts about subsequent uses; don’t trust your memory. You must pay special attention to the expiration date, and discard medications that have passed their expiration date.
  • Prepare an appropriate first aid kit.
    We must store the drug according to its nature, but always in a medicine cabinet specially intended for medication, where there are no other products such as cosmetics or cleaning supplies, and at an appropriate temperature. Also in a place located out of the reach of children.
  • Not without its packaging.
    When storing the medication, we must do so in its original container and also keeping its leaflet, so that we can consult the dosage or other important information at all times. It will also help us to correctly identify it if any accidental ingestion or adverse reactions arise.
  • The usefulness of the blister.
    The blister is the container in which the capsules or tablets of any medication are packaged. They are normally made of plastic or aluminum and are die-cut so that each tablet can be separated individually for greater convenience. We should not remove the drug from the blister and leave it loose in the bag, for example, or in the kitchen, as it may be damaged. In the case of multiple medications, and especially in the elderly or disabled patients, it is advisable to use pillboxes or medication containers to help us organize the different tablets, capsules, etc.
  • Attention to the instructions for use.
    In general, the pills should be swallowed whole, since it is not advisable to crush the tablets if it is not specifically indicated in the package leaflet; and we will follow the instructions on the leaflet as to whether it should be taken with or without food, in the morning or at night. As for liquid drugs, it is best to always use the dispensers that come in the container.
  • Beware of side effects.
    Some medications can cause side effects such as drowsiness, reduced reflexes, lightheadedness and confusion, muscle cramps or hyperactivity, which must be taken into account especially if we are going to drive after taking said drug or if our work activity has to do with the handling of machinery. In addition, other reactions such as constipation or diarrhea, which are also common, can be managed by drinking plenty of fluids or serums, respectively.
  • Tricks not to forget.
    It may be useful for us to establish a medication calendar to avoid mistakes, associate taking it with a daily task, or set an alarm on our cell phone to remember to take our medications


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