Mandatory things you should know about your medications

For safety purposes, there are things you ought to know about any drugs you are to take. Among all the things that are essential you know, 8 seems to be a must and these are what this article will discuss. 
As a pharmacist, if you ask me what drugs are, I will simply tell you that they are poisons which deal with diseases at a therapeutic dose. That’s what a man called paracelsus thought me and it’s true.
Drugs deal with diseases or sicknesses at small amount called therapeutic dose but deal with humans or whatever that took it at large amount (over dose). 
A little mistake in dosing of some drugs like digoxin can be very fatal, although that is if it’s over dosed. Under dosing of drugs is still not good especially antibiotics.
Because drugs are poisons, before you take any, whether as injection, cream, or orally, there are things you should know about them.
You may not appreciate this until you begin to misbehave after taking a drug you bought from a pharmacy and you are rushed to a hospital or a nearby clinic. It is at this point that you would believe the saying that knowledge is power.
Now, before you leave with any drug from any pharmacy, or before you receive any drug (injection) from a doctor or a nurse, ensure to do these things below.
Never mind the doctor’s, pharmacists’s or nurse’s arrogance, those who know their onions would not hesitate to tell you.

1. Ask of the name of the drug especially if it’s out of its container (counting drugs)


Knowing the name of anything you’re buying including drugs is your right. Even if it’s prescription drugs, the doctor is meant to tell you the name(s) of the drug(s) while the pharmacist is to tell you the name(s) of the same while dispensing them.
When they didn’t remember to do so, remind them. If they refuse or try to conceal the name, don’t accept it; it could be disastrous if you do so.
Do you know why?
If you begin to react to the drug(s) and you are rushed to a hospital, even with the drug(s) out of its container(s), it might be very difficult to identify.
If guess work is used, the necessary antidote- what will counter the dangerous effect of the drug(s)- might not be used.
You may wish to ask, what if I am taken back to the same hospital?
You can be taken back to the same hospital if it is nearby but identifying the drug might take time, even though it is there you got it. And before they can retrieve your folder to find out the actual drug(s) you are placed on, a lot of damage might have been done.
Know the drugs you are taking but never indulge in self-medication.

2. Ask how the drugs should be taken 


The general notion is that every drug that looks like capsule or tablet should be swallowed; while every liquid drugs should still be taken per oral.
Is this true?
Not at all; and when drugs are taken through a wrong route, they either fail to work or harm the person who took it.
Common example is when you are given an injection reconstituted with lidocaine through the vein instead of muscle.
What happens when this mistake is done?
The patient dies almost immediately. When this happens, in Nigeria and other African countries, the patient would just be prepared for burial while the doctor goes Scot-free. He would just tell the patient’s relative: “we lost him” and that will be all.
Another example is taking of suppository through the mouth. So many people have done this. 
Suppositories look exactly like capsules. Unless you are told or you have been using it before, you would likely take it through the mouth. 
Suppositories are meant to be inserted into the anus or vagina but not to be taken through the month.
What about tablets; are all of them not meant to be swallowed?
No! All of them are not to be swallowed. Some are to be kept beneath the tongue to be absorbed from there. 
An example is nitroglycerin sublingual tablet. So, don’t assume you know it all, ask your pharmacist how your drugs should be taken.
Some drugs called sustain release are not meant to be broken or crushed. If broken or crushed, you would be taking over dose as there would be dose dumping.

3. Ask what you should expect after taking the drugs


In any country with a good health system, one can only get his or her drug from the pharmacist. So, my assumption is that you get your drugs from a pharmacist.
Now, any good pharmacist is supposed to tell you the expected effect of your drug on you.  In situation where the information is not provided, ask for it.
Why is it necessary?
Certain drugs, an example is rifampicin, discolour urine. In the absence of this information, one can quit taking the  drug entirely when such side effect occurs or even take the pain of going back to the pharmacist or the clinician to complain that he’s now urinating blood ever he started his drug(s). Yes, this is because rifampicin turns urine red.
Some other drugs  would make you drowsy after taking them. Some cough syrups are good at this.
Tramadol, diazepam and its family, some anti-allergic drugs, some antipsychotics, etc do this as well. 
Knowing if the drug(s) you’re to to has this effect is highly needed as machinery shouldn’t be operated in such case (no driving or working with machines at all).

4. Ask how the drugs should be stored 


Storage plays a vital role on the efficacy  of a drug. When wrongly stored,  some drugs become highly toxic while others become ineffective. 
Some drugs are stored at room temperature while some like vaccines are best stored in the refrigerator.
Drugs like nifedipine, loses its effect when exposed to direct sunlight.

5. Ask what to avoid while on the drugs


When some drugs are taken with food, their effects die off or reduce drastically. A typical example is taking tetracycline  with a glass of milk. If this is done, the milk will literally hold the tetracycline and prevent it from being absorbed into the blood stream for it’s function.
Examples of drugs that foods decrease their effects are many. That’s the reason you shouldn’t just accept your medication from a pharmacist without asking of the foods and drugs you are to avoid.

6. Ask of the time you are to take the drug(s)


Timing of drug intake affects it. Also, it affects the person taking it. Some drugs are best taken in the morning. An example is diuretics.
If diuretics are taken at night, the person should just forget sleeping that whole night. This is for the reason that you’ll be urinating every now and then.
Moreover, some other drugs are best taken at night. Examples are hypnotics and sedatives. Unless one is bed ridden, taking these drugs at any other time outside night would make the person useless for the whole day. 
This is because these drugs make one sleep or drowsy. Nevertheless, some drugs perform better when taken about 30 minutes before food – an example is omeprazole- while some safer when taken immediately after food- examples here are pain killers (NSAIDS).

7. For women, if you are pregnant or desiring it, tell the doctor or the pharmacist 


So many drugs affect developing babies in the womb while some kick them out of the womb. In other to avoid any of these two things from happening, always tell your doctor or pharmacist if you’re pregnant or desiring it.

8. Tell them about other drugs or supplements you are taking 


When this is done, it would enable them know the best drug(s) to place you on. In some situations, you may be asked to discontinue your current drugs or supplements until the new one you will be placed on finishes.
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