Tag Archives: prescription medication

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)

Dangerous Food and Drug Interactions: By Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

Dangerous food, over-the-counter drug and prescription medication interactions: 

Frequently people combine dangerous food and drugs and put their health and sometimes their lives at risk.  In most cases they are not aware of the problem that some medications and foods cannot be mixed, since many of these same medications and foods seem harmless when taken alone.  Below are some of the more common hazardous food and drug interactions which will be followed on subsequent pages by dangerous prescription drug and over-the-counter drug interactions and what you can do to protect yourself and your family from harm. 

Food and drug interactions: 

Your pharmacist may have cautioned you about taking certain antibiotics with dairy products, as this combination may reduce the effectiveness of these medications.  However, there are many pharmacists and doctors who are actually unaware of some unusual drug/food interactions.  The following foods may cause problems with some medications.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice contains substances that interact in a powerful way with medications and sometimes may cause devastating side effects.  An example may be blood pressure medications such as Procardia and Adalat (Nifedipine) and Plendil (felodipine), which are dangerous when combined with grapefruit, resulting in higher levels of the blood pressure medications. Some of the negative symptoms may include facial flushing, nausea, dizziness, confusion, palpitations or irregular heartbeat.
Green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage have been known to reduce the effectiveness of the blood thinner Coumadin (warfarin), which is a very commonly prescribed blood thinner that is used to prevent blood clots.  These foods are rich in vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot.  Coumadin is believed to work by counteracting vitamin K’s ability to clot.  Consuming small amounts of vitamin K-rich foods probably will not pose a problem.  But if you usually do not eat these foods and then decide to consume quite a few at a Chinese restaurant for example, you may reduce the drug’s effectiveness and put yourself at risk for blood clot or stroke. 

Oatmeal and other high fiber foods are believed to interfere with the absorption of Lanoxin (digoxin), a drug that is frequently prescribed to control an irregular heart rhythm, which can then lead to blood clots and stroke.  You should take Lanoxin two or three hours before or after eating high-fiber foods.
Salt substitutes are frequently used by people who have high blood pressure.  However, they also contain high amounts of potassium.  If these salt substitutes were to be consumed with potassium-sparing diuretics such as Aldactone (Spironolactone) – which is usually prescribed for high blood pressure or congestive heart failure, your potassium levels may skyrocket, which then may increase your risk of cardiac arrest. 

Licorice and Lanoxin or diuretics such as Lasix (furosemide) can lead to very low levels of potassium which may lead to an irregular heart rhythm and possibly cardiac arrest.  One piece of licorice will probably not hurt, but regular handfuls of licorice could be fatal.

Information adapted from The World’s Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets 

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist   


Guarding Against Dangerous Drug Interactions

Some of the best ways you can guard against dangerous drug interactions include the following:

Always make sure your doctor is aware of the prescription and over-the-counter drugs you are currently taking, and have your doctor check for whether these drugs interact in a way that is detrimental to your health. It is best that they consult drug reference books or computer reference programs before you leave the office.

Always have your medications filled at the same pharmacy, ideally one that keeps computerized information of all of your medications, and can focus on any possible drug interactions. Also, always tell your pharmacist about all of the over-the-counter drugs that you are currently taking.

Make a list of the key questions to ask your physician. When your doctor prescribes a new medication don’t just assume that he and your pharmacist are aware of all the drug interactions, or even if they are, that they will remember to tell you. Make a list of questions for your doctor or pharmacist and make sure that they answer them independently. If one contradicts the other, always follow up. Some of the following are good questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist in relation to drug interactions.

• What is the medication’s name?

• What is the dosage?

• What time and how often should I take it?

• Should it be taken with food?

• Are there any foods that need to be avoided?

• Should I avoid any vitamins or supplements?

• Can I increase any vitamins or supplements?• Are there any warnings and precautions I should know about?

• Are there any contraindications to taking this medication?• What other prescription medication should I avoid while on this drug?

• Are there any over- the – counter remedies that I need to avoid?

• What side effects are common with this medication?

• Are there any side effects that you need to know about immediately?

Even if your doctor or pharmacist tells you that there are no negative drug interactions with other medications or food, don’t assume that none exist. There are many rare but life-threatening interactions that may go undetected by drug companies or the medical establishment, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, for months or even years, after the drug has become available on the open market. So if you experience any strange symptoms that can’t easily be explained, you need to contact your doctor or the drug’s manufacturer and file a report with the FDA.

Information from The World’s Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic Ph.D Licensed Psychologist

Prescription drugs: Five easy ways to save big money.

Prescription drug savings can be had in several ways. You’re probably already familiar with how you can save money on the costs of medications by asking your doctor for generic equivalents of your prescription drugs. Here are five more cost cutting tricks:

(1) Ask for free samples of prescription drugs. Doctors are deluged with pharmaceutical sales representatives handing out free samples from manufacturers, but they don’t always distribute the samples to their patients. If you ask, you may get a week or more of an expensive prescription drug for free.

Caution: Make sure to check the expiration dates as some of these medications may have been sitting around the doctor’s office for way too long.

(2) Get your prescription drugs through mail-order or on the Internet. Obviously, you should always do this only when appropriate, but buying prescription drugs by mail or on the Internet can be very economical, and convenient. However, you must be careful that many mail-order pharmacies used nonpharmacists to fill prescriptions. While usually a pharmacist with check the final order, the volume of prescription drugs being processed is usually very large and mistakes do happen.

Buying by mail order or over the Internet means you lose the benefit of face-to-face communication with your pharmacist who can warn you of possible interactions and negative side effects.

The bottom line: The Internet or mail-order is best used with drugs you’re familiar with, and medications that are taken on a long-term basis. That way you will minimize the risk of taking a wrong prescription drug or falling victim to unforeseen drug interactions.

(3) Don’t let your insurance company impose limits on your prescription length.
If your doctor writes an order for a 90 day supply of your prescription drug your insurance company may approve only a 30 day supply. Limiting your prescriptions in this manner helps your insurer to cut costs but actually costs you more money and extra trips to the pharmacy.

Loophole: If you want or need a prescription for a 90 day supply and your insurance company only covers 30 days, ask your doctor to substitute “take as directed” instead of “take once a day” on the prescription form, which makes it hard for the insurance company to know how many pills comprise a 30 day supply. You’ll be able to then get your full 90 day supply filled.

Find out how often the medication should actually be taken and write it on the prescription label.

(4) Avoid time release formulations. Many prescription drugs are offered in both time-release and non-time-release forms. Time-release forms are often more convenient and also more expensive.

(5) Look into patient assistance programs for your prescription drugs. These programs are available by many pharmaceutical companies but are not publicly advertised. They are usually used to assist people who are short on cash because of job loss or financial setbacks. You may qualify for free prescription drugs. In most cases, all that is required is for your doctor to certify that you’re unable to afford the cost of the prescription drug. Call the manufacturer directly or find out if a particular drug is available through such a program and what the terms are.

Some information from The World’s Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets from the Editors of Bottom Line Publications

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic Ph.D Licensed Psychologist