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The Best Way to Take Your Medicine

It pays to be cautious at any age about taking medications. But it’s especially important for older people, who are likely to have multiple prescriptions. And that, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), can increase the chances of harmful drug interactions.

On top of that, the FDA says, changes in aging bodies can affect the way medicines are absorbed. For example, the agency says, the liver and kidneys may not work as well. That affects how a drug both breaks down in the body and leaves it. Changes in the digestive system, the agency says, can affect the rate at which drugs are absorbed into your bloodstream.

Here are four important tips from the FDA on the right way to take medicine – and avoid possibly dangerous complications:

TAKE YOUR MEDICATION AS PRESCRIBED
Don’t skip doses or stop taking a medicine without talking with your provider first – even if you don’t think the medicine is working. The FDA experts say that medicines for conditions such as diabetes and hypertension work only when taken regularly. If you think you’re experiencing side effects, call your physician.

KEEP A MEDICATION LIST

Write down what you’re taking, and keep it with you. The FDA suggests that you consider giving the list to a friend or family member. That could help in case of an emergency. Be sure to keep the list updated, with the medicine’s brand and generic names, how often you take it and what dosage you’re taking.

BE AWARE OF POTENTIAL INTERACTIONS

The FDA says interactions can occur when:

*One drug affects how another drug works;

*A medical condition you have makes a certain drug potentially harmful;

*A food or non-alcoholic drink reacts with a drug;

*A medicine interacts with an alcoholic drink.

To be fully aware of possible interactions, the FDA experts advise carefully reading information for both the prescription and the over-the-counter medicines you are taking. As an example of interaction, the FDA cites nitroglycerin, which treats angina but should not be taken with many erectile dysfunction drugs, including Viagra and Cialis. Serious interactions are possible, the FDA says.

If you’re seeing more than one health-care provider, the FDA says, make sure each knows exactly what medicines and supplements you’re taking. If you’re seeing multiple health care providers, tell each one about all of your medications and supplements so they can be aware of any interactions. Additionally, you can ask your pharmacist if you have any concerns about interactions.

HAVE AN ANNUAL REVIEW

Schedule at least one review every year of your medications to confirm which medications you still need, and which ones you don’t. If you do still need a medication that’s expensive, the FDA suggests asking whether there’s a cheaper, effective alternative.

For more information, visit U.S Food and Drug Administration.

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