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Staying healthy and managing multiple medications

August 25, 2019

If you’re one of the many people who take multiple medications (almost 40 percent of older adults take five or more prescription drugs), you may already know that remembering to take each medication is just the tip of the iceberg. For example, some medications can cause problems when taken together, while prescription drugs may not interact well with an over-the-counter medication. Some drugs should be taken on an empty stomach and other medications can react with something you eat. How can you avoid problems? Here are tips for staying healthy while effortlessly managing multiple medications.

1. Read instructions and warning labels for all medications you take. Sometimes medications taken for one condition may adversely affect another condition. Be sure to read all labels and make your doctor aware of any potential problems.

2. Fill your prescriptions at the same pharmacy. Using one pharmacy makes refills simple. More importantly, your pharmacist will be aware of everything you’re taking and any potential interactions.

3. Let your physician or pharmacist know if you are taking over-the-counter medicines or supplements. Vitamins, minerals, or herbals can also interact with prescription drugs.

4. Use a daily pill dispenser to keep your medications organized. An organizational system (such as a pill dispenser) lets you know at a glance whether you’ve taken your medicines yet.

5. Avoid alcohol when taking medications. Combining alcohol with some medications can increase drowsiness and impair coordination.

6. Never take a medication prescribed for someone else.Drugs are prescribed to only one person with consideration to his or her unique medical history, so the drug may not be right for you.

7. Be aware that some foods can influence the effectiveness or safety of medications. Did you know that more than 50 medications cannot be taken with grapefruit juice?

Follow the simple steps outlined here, and you'll have greater assurance that the medications you or your loved ones take are doing what they were intended to do. If you don’t feel comfortable about managing your medications, reach out to your physician or pharmacist for help in establishing a routine that will work for you.

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