Category Archives: Prescription Medication Info.

Prescription Medication: The Do’s and Don’ts

Prescription Medication: The Do’s and Don’ts

When taking prescription medications, your senior should do the following:
Frequent a pharmacist who keeps a “drug profile” for customers and who will alert you to any prescription medication interaction problems. Also, continue comparing prices at other pharmacies as your pharmacist may match a cheaper price at another drugstore if you’re a regular customer.

Ask your doctor to write the purpose of the medication on the prescription so that the pharmacist can then type it on the label, helping to reduce the chance of accidental mix-ups. Most pharmacists will also write the expiration date of the prescription medication if asked to.

Ask the pharmacist for easy open caps, large print labels, and sometimes oversize bottles may be necessary. Check your prescription medications before leaving the pharmacy. Make sure that the correct patient’s name is on the bottle and the directions are consistent with what the doctor told you. Ask the pharmacist if your pill box or pill organizer will affect the stability of the prescription medication. You should also talk with your doctor and pharmacist about whether crushing pills or putting them in liquid or applesauce affects the medication, making them less effective.

Always read the medicine container before each dose. Always take all medications as prescribed. A recent report found that nearly 25% of all admissions to nursing homes were due to elders not following the prescribed medication therapeutic regimen.

Things your loved ones should not do when taking prescription medications: Never put drugs in different bottles then what they were originally prescribed in. When medications are in different bottles, it’s hard to remember what they are for or how they should be taken. Also, the original bottles are tinted or opaque to keep out damaging sunlight.

Split medications in advance. When the doctor has approved taking half a pill, ask the pharmacist whether splitting medications in advance will have an effect on the drug. (Most large pharmacies sell tablet cutters for splitting pills). Chew or break pills unless directed. You should never take anyone else’s prescription medication. Never drive when there’s a warning on the medications saying that it may cause drowsiness or fatigue. Never modify the dosage without consulting your physician.

Never discontinue medications even if you feel better. This is especially true for antibiotics. Quitting before the pills are taken completely may cause an increase in antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Also, abrupt discontinuation of medications may cause unpleasant and possibly dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Your physician always needs be notified when medications are discontinued before the prescribed time.

Do not accumulate old prescription medications. Unused medicines make the proper management of medications more difficult. The best way to dispose of prescription medications is by flushing them down the toilet, which will ensure that children, pets or others will not find them in the trash and be harmed by them in any way.
These recommendations should help to make yourself or family member safer and healthier.

Some information from Eldercare for Dummies by Rachelle Zukerman

Additional information and webpage by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)

Trazodone medication: Is this medicine safe and effective?

Brand-name: Desyrel

Generic name: Trazodone hydrochloride

Trazodone medication: Why is this medication prescribed?

Trazodone medication is prescribed for treatment of depression. In addition to its antidepressant properties, sometimes it is also prescribed to assist people with their sleep.

Trazodone medication: What are some important things for me to know?

Trazodone medication does not give immediate relief, but may take up to four weeks before you actually begin to feel better. Most patients notice some improvement within approximately 2 weeks however.

When should trazodone medication not be prescribed?

If you’ve ever been sensitive or allergic to trazodone or similar medications, you should probably not take this antidepressant. You should always make sure that your doctor is aware of any drug reactions you experience when on this or any medications.

What if I am pregnant or breast-feeding?

The effects of trazodone medication have not been adequately studied during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant in the near future, you should talk to your physician immediately. This medicine may appear in breast milk. If trazodone medication is absolutely essential to your health, your doctor may recommend that you discontinue breast-feeding your baby until your treatment with trazodone medication is complete.

Trazodone side effects: An overview

Trazodone side effects usually cannot be anticipated. If you notice any Trazodone side effects however, you should notify your physician immediately. Along with the benefits of any medicine, there are almost always some unwanted effects. While many or most of these effects may not occur, if they do you should call your physician or get medical attention immediately.

Trazodone side effects that require immediate attention:


Painful and inappropriate erection of the penis continuing for an extended period of time. In this case you should stop taking this medicine and check with your doctor immediately.

You need to check with your doctor as soon as possible if any the following Trazodone side effects occur:

Less Common

Fainting; muscle tremors; confusion


Unusual excitement; skin rash: fast or slow heartbeat

Symptoms of overdosage of Trazodone

Loss of muscle coordination; nausea and vomiting; drowsiness

While many other Trazodone side effects may occur that usually do not require medical attention, these side effects may go away as treatment progresses and your body adjusts to the medicine. However, you should check with your doctor if the following Trazodone side effects continue or become more bothersome:
More common
Unpleasant taste; nausea and vomiting; dryness of mouth; dizziness or lightheadedness; drowsiness
Less common
Unusual tiredness or weakness; muscle aches or pains; constipation; blurred vision; diarrhea
While other Trazodone side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients, if you notice any other side effects while taking Trazodone or any other medicine you need to check with your doctor immediately.

Trazodone dosage: How much is too much?

Trazodone dosage: Important information

Your Trazodone dosage should be taken with or shortly after a meal or snack to reduce any dizziness or lightheadedness or to lessen stomach upset. Your Trazodone dosage should always be taken precisely as recommended by your doctor without deviation to gain the maximum benefit of this depression medicine. Some patients have reported that it may take as long as four weeks before you begin to feel better although some report improvement within two weeks.

Trazodone dosage: Specific amounts

Although your dose of Trazodone may be different from other individuals, you need to follow your doctor’s orders or the directions on the label of your medication. The following information includes only the average Trazodone dosages. If your dose is different always follow exactly what your doctor tells you to do.

Adult Trazodone dosage

The usual starting dosage is 50 mg per dose taken three times a day or 75 mg per dose taken two times a day. Your physician may increase the dosage as he or she believes will benefit your condition.

Children’s dosage

For children up to the age of six years old, dosage should be determined by your doctor. For children between the ages of six and 18 years old, your doctor will determine the oral dosage to be taken based upon your body weight.

Trazodone dosage for the elderly

The usual starting dosage is 25 mg per dose taken three times a day. Your doctor may than increase your dosage as needed.

Storage of Trazodone:

Always keep this depression medication out of the reach of children, away from heat and direct sunlight. You should never store this medicine in the bathroom or other damp area or near any type of heat or moisture, which may cause this medication to break down. Also, you should never keep this or any other medication any longer than needed. Be sure that any discarded medicine is out of the reach of children.

Missed Trazodone dosage:

If you ever miss your Trazodone dosage you need to take it as soon as possible. However, if it is within four hours of your next dosage you will need to get back on your regular routine schedule. Never take double doses of Trazodone or any other medication for that matter.

Trazodone medication: What are some of the special precautions?

Trazodone medication: Special precautions

The use of Trazodone medication will require regular visits to your doctor to monitor your progress. Your physician will continue to check the effects of your Trazodone medication and adjust the dosage as necessary. You should never quit taking this medication without checking with your doctor first. Frequently the doctor will reduce the amount of this medication gradually before you stop it completely.

Trazodone medication- Other special precautions:

While taking Trazodone medication, always let your doctor or dentist know before having any emergency, dental or medical surgery. Taking this medicine while having surgical or dental treatments may interact negatively with medicines that are used during dental or emergency services and increase the depressant effects on the central nervous system.

Trazodone medication has also been known to cause people to become irritable and agitated, as well as to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies, and to actually become more depressed. If you or your family members notice these effects you should notify your doctor immediately.

This depression medicine will add to the effects of alcohol or other central nervous system depressants, possibly causing drowsiness. Common examples of central nervous system depressants are antihistamines or medicines for allergies, colds, tranquilizers, and sleeping medicines. Other very common central nervous system depressants also include pain medicines or narcotics, medicine for seizures, muscle relaxants, anesthetics and barbiturates.
Trazodone may cause some people to become drowsy or less alert than normal. You should always make sure you know how you will react to this medication before you drive or operate heavy machinery or do anything that may be dangerous if you’re not completely alert. Dizziness, fainting or lightheadedness may occur when you attempt to get up from a lying or sitting position. Many doctors recommend getting up slowly to help with this sensation. If this lightheadedness or dizziness problem continues or gets worse you should talk to your doctor immediately.
Trazodone medication has also been known to cause dryness of the mouth. Sugar, gum, hard candy or small pieces of ice may provide some relief for you. However, if your mouth remains dry for more than two weeks, you should talk to your physician or dentist immediately. A continuing dryness of the mouth may result in dental disease, tooth decay, gum disease or other fungus infections as a result of taking Trazodone medication.

Information adapted from Consumer Reports Consumer Drug Reference

Additional information by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

Prozac Medication: The Benefits, Side Effects and Dosages

Prozac Medication: An Overview

Prozac is a medication used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia, and frequently severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Prozac is within the drug classification referred to as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s), which is believed to help maintain a elevated level of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain which is believed to affect moods. This neurotransmitter is usually quickly reabsorbed after its initial release from neurons in the brain. It is believed that excess serotonin between the neurons is blocked by medications such as Prozac from being taken back up into the releasing neurons resulting in increased levels of serotonin in the brain.

Prozac is most often prescribed to treat depression of the moderate to severe variety which interferes with daily functioning and most often is referred to as major depression. The symptoms of major depression include low mood and low energy, changes in sleeping habits and appetite, decreased sex drive, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, slowed thinking, and suicidal thoughts. However, Prozac can be taken for a variety of other mental health disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder as well as others. It is most often prescribed for adolescents, adults and the elderly but may occasionally be prescribed for children.

Prozac Medication for Obsessive- Compulsive Disorders:

In addition to being used for the treatment of depression, Prozac is also used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. Obsessions are thoughts that won’t go away, and compulsions are repetitive behaviors and actions which are done to relieve anxiety often associated with the obsessions. Prozac is used at times to also treat bulimia which is a binge eating disorder which involves deliberate vomiting and has also been used to treat other eating disorders including obesity.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder:

Under the brand name Serafem which includes the active ingredients in Prozac, this depression medication is sometimes prescribed for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is often referred to as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) including mood changes such as anxiety, depression, persistent anger, irritability, and mood swings. There are various physical problems associated with PMDD, including bloating, breast tenderness, headache and joint muscle pain. Symptoms usually tend to begin about 1 to 2 weeks before a woman’s premenstrual period. They are frequently severe enough to interfere with a woman’s daily activities, functioning and relationships.

Prozac Medication: Precautions

You should always be open and honest with your doctor when your taking Prozac. Always give a complete medical history, including liver problems, kidney disease, seizures, heart problems, allergies and history of diabetes. This depression medication has been known to make individuals dizzy or drowsy, making it necessary to be cautious when engaging in activities that require alertness such as driving or using heavy machinery. Alcohol should be limited when on this medication. Caution is also advised if you have diabetes, alcohol dependence or liver disease. Also, caution should be taken when this medication is being used by the elderly as they are more sensitive to the effects of the drug. This drug should only be used if necessary if an individual is pregnant as the medication passes into the breast milk. Because of the possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding while on this medication is not recommended. Consultation with your physician about the benefits and risks of Prozac used during pregnancy and breast-feeding is imperative. Obviously, you should never share your Prozac with others.

Important Facts About This Depression Medication

It has been noted that there can be some very serious and at times even fatal reactions to occur when Prozac is taken at the same time as some other antidepressants such as the MAO inhibitors. Also, you need to be careful when taking high doses of Prozac over a prolonged period of time. If you are taking any other medications for depression or any other prescription or nonprescription drugs you need to notify your physician before beginning on Prozac.

Prozac Side Effects:

Although the Prozac side effects seem to be less than some of the earlier generation antidepressant medications such as desipramine, amitriptyline and nortriptyline, there are still side effects that you need to be aware of. Some of the more common side effects of Prozac are sweating, dry mouth, drowsiness, headache, insomnia and nausea. Some of the side effects that are less likely but at times even more severe are loss of appetite and unusual weight loss, uncontrollable movements such as tremors, decreased interest in sex, flu-like symptoms, and either unusual or severe mood changes. Even less likely but even more potentially serious Prozac side effects include trouble swallowing, vision changes, white spots and swelling on the mouth and tongue, painful and/or prolonged erection and changes in sexual ability. The most severe side effects associated with Prozac are irregular and fast heartbeat, and fainting. Allergic reactions to Prozac are relatively rare but may include itching, rash, swelling, trouble breathing and dizziness. If you notice any reactions after beginning treatment with Prozac, you need to notify your pharmacist or physician immediately. A more complete listing of Prozac side effects follows.

The Most Common Prozac Side Effects:

Abnormal vision, abnormal ejaculation, abnormal dreams, increased anxiety, reduced sex drive, dry mouth, dizziness, flushing, flulike symptoms, headache, gas, impotence, itching, insomnia, loss of appetite, nervousness, nausea, sinusitis, rash, sleepiness, sweating, sore throat, upset stomach, tremors, yawning, vomiting, weakness

Less Common Prozac Side Effects:

Agitation, abnormal taste, weight gain, sleep disorders, bleeding problems, confusion, chills, weight gain, ringing in the ears, palpitations, loss of memory, increased appetite, high blood pressure, frequent urination, ear pain, emotional instability

There have been other very rare side effects reported while taking Prozac. If you develop any unexplained or new symptoms after initiating treatment with this depression medication you need to contact your physician immediately.

Drug Interactions:

In addition to the Prozac side effects mentioned above, there are also concerns for negative food and drug interactions when taking this antidepressant medication. As mentioned previously, Prozac should never be taken at the same time as you are taking MAO inhibitors. This can cause a very serious medication interaction. Also, when Prozac is taken with other medications the effect may be increased, decreased or altered in other ways. You should always check with your doctor when Prozac is taken with the following medications:

Alprazolam (Xanax)
Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
Clozapine (Clozaril)
Diazepam (Valium)
Digitoxin (Crystodigin)
Drugs that impair brain function, such as sleep aids and narcotic painkillers
Flecainide (Tambocor)
Haloperidol (Haldol)
Lithium (Eskalith)
Other antidepressants (Elavil)
Phenytoin (Dilantin)
Pimozide (Orap)
Vinblastine (Velban)
Warfarin (Coumadin)

Special Warnings if You are Pregnant or Breast-feeding:

Prozac has not been adequately studied for its effects on pregnancy. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the near future, you need to talk with your physician as soon as possible to determine whether you should continue taking this depression medication. Prozac is known to appear in breast milk, so breast-feeding is obviously discouraged when taking this drug.

Prozac Dosage:

It is most common for your Prozac dosage to be taken once or twice a day and should be taken exactly as prescribed by your physician. It needs to be taken regularly to be effective. If it is possible, you should take your Prozac dosage at the same time every day.

Some patients have found that it can take as much as four weeks to feel any significant effects and get some relief from their depression. Doctors will also commonly maintain the treatment regimen for about nine months after the first initial three-month treatment trial. Some individuals who experience obsessive-compulsive disorder may not feel the full effects for as much as five weeks.

The Recommended Prozac Dosage:

The most common starting dosage of Prozac is 20 mg daily taken in the morning. Your physician may increase your dose after several weeks if there has been no improvement in symptoms. Elderly people with kidney and liver disease, and any other individual taking other medications may have their dosage adjusted by their doctor.

When taking a dosage of Prozac over 20 mg, the doctor may ask you to take it once a day in the morning or may ask that you to take two smaller doses in the morning and also at noontime.

The usual Prozac dosage for depression ranges between 20 mg and 60 mg. For obsessive-compulsive disorder, the usual dosage of Prozac ranges from 20 mg to 60 mg per day, although at times a maximum of 80 mg may be prescribed. The usual dosage of Prozac for bulimia nervosa is 60 mg taken in the morning. As with other disorders, the doctor may start at a lower dosage and increase to this level over a period of time. The most common Prozac dosage for premenstrual dysphoric disorder is 20 mg per day.

For some individuals who have been treated successfully with the daily form of Prozac, their doctor may switch them to a long acting form sometimes referred to as Prozac weekly. Your physician may ask you to skip your daily doses for seven days and then take your first weekly capsule.

If you miss your dose of Prozac you should take it as soon as you remember. If a significant time has passed however, you should skip that dosage and resume your normal dosage schedule.

Over dosage of Prozac:

Prozac like all medications, needs to be taken as recommended. Dosages more than the recommended amount can be dangerous and even fatal. Also, combining Prozac with certain other medications or drugs may cause symptoms of over dosage. If you suspect an overdose, you need to contact your doctor or go to an emergency room immediately.

The most common symptoms of Prozac over dosage include rapid heartbeat, nausea, seizures, vomiting and sleepiness. Some of the less common symptoms of Prozac over dosage include stupor, sweating, rigid muscles, low blood pressure, mania, coma, delirium, fainting, high fever and irregular heartbeat.

By Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

Lexapro Medication: Side Effects, Dosages and Indications

Lexapro Medication: Side Effects and Dosages: Overview

Lexapro medication side effects and dosages are absolutely essential to know before you begin taking this antidepressant medication. Lexapro is a medication usually prescribed for major depression which is a low mood that persists for at least several weeks duration, and interferes with daily functioning. Major depression must occur nearly every day for at least two weeks, and must include either (1) low mood or (2) loss of interest in your usual activities and interests, as well as at least five of the following symptoms of depression: significant changes in weight or appetite, changes in your pattern of sleep, lethargy or agitation, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and slowed thinking and thoughts of suicide. If the symptoms of depression persist over a period of several weeks you may have major depressive disorder, which may make Lexapro a good choice for an antidepressant. If that is the case, it is essential to understand Lexapro medication, side effects, dosages, indications and contraindications.

Lexapro is a medication that increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a necessary chemical in the brain referred to as a neurotransmitter, which is involved in things such as establishing biological processes associated with sleeping and eating. Lexapro is also a close cousin of Celexa, which is also a medication used to treat depression. There are several medications that focus on increasing the level of serotonin in the brain including Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil.

Lexapro Medication Important Information:

Lexapro is an effective and very popular medication. However, this is a medication in which you could possibly get a very bad reaction if you have been taking some other medications, such as those of the medication classification of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s). Some of the MAOI’s include Parnate, Marplan and Nardil. Many psychiatrists recommend that you never take Lexapro within two weeks of having taken these medications. When combined with Lexapro, these medications can cause some very serious and even fatal reactions. These negative symptoms include twitching and agitation, fever, and rigidity, which have been known at times to even lead to delirium and even coma.

Lexapro Medication Side Effects:

Specific Lexapro medication side effects cannot really be anticipated but if any develop or intensify, you should contact your doctor immediately. Only your physician can decide if you should continue taking this medication for depression if you experience any of the following symptoms below.

Some of the more common Lexapro side effects include:

Decreased appetite, sweating, sleepiness, sinusitis, runny nose, nausea, insomnia, indigestion, impotence, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, ejaculation disorder, dry mouth, dizziness, diarrhea, decreased sex drive, constipation

Some of the less common Lexapro side effects may also include:

Yawning, weight changes, vomiting, vertigo, urinary problems, tremors, toothache, tingling, stomachache, sinus headache, sinus congestion, ringing in the ears, rash, palpitations, pain in arms or legs, pain in the shoulder and neck, nasal congestion, muscle pain, migraine, menstrual cramps, lightheadedness, lack of orgasm, lack of energy, lack of concentration, joint pain, irritability, increased appetite, hot flashes, high blood pressure, heartburn, fever, coughing, chest pain, bronchitis, blurred vision, allergic reactions, abnormal dreaming, abdominal pain

In addition to these Lexapro side effects, others have been reported but are very rare. You should always check with your physician if you develop any new or unusual symptoms when taking this depression medication.

Lexapro side effects and additional special warnings:

This medication can make you sleepy. Until you know how you react to this drug, you should use it with caution when driving a car or operating any potentially hazardous machinery or tools. In some rare cases, Lexapro has been known to trigger manic episodes, which are unreasonably high levels of energy, that can become very risky or hazardous to your health. Also, you should let your doctor know if you have had any problems with your kidneys or liver. Your physician may need to adjust your medication accordingly.

Possible drug and food interactions when taking Lexapro:

You should never take Lexapro when taking the similar drug Celexa. Also, as referred above, you should always be careful to avoid any of the MAO inhibitor medications such as Nardil, Parnate and Marplan. Lexapro is not known to interact negatively with alcohol, but the manufacturer recommends avoiding alcoholic beverages while taking this depression medication. If Lexapro is taken with other medications, the combination may increase, decrease or otherwise alter the effects in some way. It is highly recommended that you consult your physician before taking the following medications:

• Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
• Cimetidine (Tagamet)
• Desipramine (Norpramin)
• Other drugs that act upon the brain including antidepressants, sedatives, tranquilizers and painkillers
• Ketaconazole (Nizoral)
• Lithium (Eskalith)
• Metoprolol (Lopressor)
• Narcotic painkillers
• Sumatriptan (Imitrex)

Special information if you happen to be pregnant or breast-feeding:

If you are currently pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the future, you should let your physician know before taking Lexapro. This medication should only be taken if the benefits outweigh the risks. Lexapro appears in breast milk and could possibly affect the nursing infant. In most cases it is not recommended to breast-feed while taking this medication.

Lexapro medication dosage overview:

Your Lexapro medication dosage should be taken exactly as recommended by your physician even if you begin to feel better. The correct dosage of Lexapro should result in feeling better in one to four weeks, although it is recommended that you continue with this medication for at least several months. This medication can be taken with or without food.

If you miss your usual Lexapro medication dosage…

You should take your missed dosage as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dosage however, you should skip the missed dose and resume your regular medication routine. You should never take more than one dose of Lexapro at a time.

Lexapro medication dosage for adults:

The recommended dosage of Lexapro is 10 mg once a day. If necessary, the doctor may increase the dosage to 20 mg after a minimum of one week. The higher dosage will probably not be recommended for senior adults and people who have liver problems.

Lexapro Overdosage:

Taking massive amounts of Lexapro can be fatal. If you suspect a Lexapro overdosage, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Typical symptoms of Lexapro medication overdosage:

Seizures, rapid heartbeat, drowsiness, vomiting, tremors, nausea, sweating, dizziness
There have also been some rare cases of Lexapro overdosage causing memory loss, confusion, breathing problems, muscle wasting, irregular heartbeat

Storage of Lexapro

This medication should be stored at room temperature.

Summary of Lexapro medication side effects and dosages:

Lexapro is a medication with well-known side effects and effective dosages. Always follow your physician’s recommendations and pay attention to the physiological changes in your body as your specific Lexapro medication side effects cannot really be anticipated and dosages may need to be adjusted accordingly.

Some information adapted from the PDR Pocket Guide to Prescription Drugs (Sixth Edition) by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

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