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Medicine Mistakes Diabetics Cannot Afford

Medicine mistakes and errors now account for thousands of hospital admissions a month. Are you taking your medicine correctly? Most of us now take at least one prescription drug, as well as over-the-counter remedies.

1. Taking Medicine Last Thing at Night

Cough mixtures and children’s paracetamol are laden with sugar, which can be tricky to remove from the bumps and crevices of back teeth, warns the Oral Dental Health Foundation. If taken at bedtime, after tooth-brushing, they can contribute to tooth decay. Take before brushing your teeth or ask about sugar-free options.

2. Suffering in Silence

If you have an intimate issue, you may not feel comfortable visiting your GP for advice (although you should never feel like this after all, they’ve seen everything before with hundreds of other patients). A visit to your pharmacy may prevent the need for a doctor’s appointment, as a suitable treatment may be available over the counter. For example, 45% of us suffer in silence when it comes to the problem of vaginal dryness, itching and irritation, which is common during the menopause but also in younger women during pregnancy and breastfeeding, or even as a result of taking other medications. Your pharmacist can advise on whether an over-the-counter product is suitable for you. 

3. Forgetting about Supplements

Common medicine mistakes are thinking that many ‘harmless’ supplements can interact with medication. For instance, the headache remedy feverfew can increase blood pressure when combined with certain migraine drugs, while vitamins K and E can affect anticoagulants. Tell your GP or pharmacist about any supplements you’re taking, warn pharmacists. 

4. Not Shaking the Bottle

Here’s something to remember if you’re taking liquid medicines. Shaking the bottle allows the active ingredients to be evenly dispersed so you get the correct dose.

Not shaking means the particles will have settled at the bottom of the bottle so you won’t get the concentration you need.

5. Not Finishing Antibiotics

Very big medicine mistakes are made when skipping antibiotics or not completing the course. This can cause infection to reoccur and increase the risk of antibiotic resistance, warn Doctors. Your body builds up a defence against the antibiotic and you won’t be fully treated, allowing any underlying infection to reoccur. If you need to take that antibiotic again in the future, it may not be potent enough and successful. Always take doses at the same time every day, this is very important.

6. Not Taking as Directed

Read the instruction label to check if your medication needs to be taken at a certain time of day or before/after food. Certain tablets, such as antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, should be taken with or after food for effective absorption or because they can affect the stomach lining, causing irritation.

7. Ignoring use-by dates

Like expiry dates on food, the use-by date is there for a reason. After this date, the active ingredient may have degraded so you won’t get the optimum concentration in your bloodstream. So clear out any old medicines from your cupboards and take them to your pharmacist so they can be disposed off safely.

8. Taking With the Wrong Drink

Unfortunate yet common medicine mistakes are not taking
medication with water. Never take tablets with grapefruit juice, say pharmacists. Research shows it contains a substance that can dangerously alter the ‘breakdown’ of some drugs. Alcohol can increase the sedative effects of codeine and cause stomach bleeding in people on anti-inflammatories. Unless instructed otherwise, take all medication with water.

9. Taking Too Many Painkillers

Dosing up on painkillers and cold medicines that contain the same active ingredients could lead to side effects and overdosing. Too much paracetamol, for instance, saturates the liver enzymes, preventing them from functioning it can result in permanent liver damage and even death. Always read the leaflet and stick to the recommended dose.

10. Crushing or Halving Pills

Always check with your pharmacist before breaking up tablets. Many medications have an outer coating which protects the stomach or ensures slow release of the drug, so crushing pills increases the risk of side effects and of getting a large dose too quickly. Try taking caplets or capsules with a sports cap water bottle, if you find tablets hard to swallow, this creates a funnel so the water flushes the tablet down. Ask about liquid or dissolvable medication. 

11. Giving Children Adult Medicine

Even in a smaller dose, this is potentially dangerous. Adult medication is formulated specifically for adults and is significantly stronger than a child’s dosage. Always give medications which are formulated for children, unless directions are clearly given otherwise.

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