Use the same intelligent shopping skills for your medications as you use for buying cars and computers. That's medicine-safety advice from Jay S. Cohen, M.D., associate professor of family and preventative medicine at the University of California at San Diego, and author of Make Your Medicine Safe and Over Dose.
A recognized expert on the subject, Dr. Cohen shows an important way to prevent drug reactions is to begin with a low dose.
Whenever possible, begin at the lowest effective dose and increase if necessary until the desired effect is achieved.
Ask your doctor for an alternative medication that allows for more flexible dosing.
If the lowest-available dose is still too high, ask if your doctor thinks you should split a pill or open a capsule and pour some out. Or ask for a prescription to a compounding pharmacy, which can customize medications at any desired dose. For more on compounding pharmacies, go to www.iacprx.org.
Medical expert, Dr. Ray Strand, M.D., outlines important questions to ask your doctor:
Physicians simply do not have enough time to go over medications in full detail, so this is only the start of the information-gathering process. The next step is at the pharmacy counter.
Many serious drug interactions are caused by combining short-term drugs (like antibiotics or pain pills) with long-term medications. For example, patients who took Erythromycin after having been on Seldane or Hismanal were at risk for sudden death! And that's why those drugs are now off the market. “Be assured other drug interactions can potentially bring the same results,” warns Dr. Strand.
Get all your prescriptions filled at one pharmacy. “It is critical that you use one source for all your medications,” advises Dr. Strand, “ this may be one of the most important changes you need.”
Always ask for, and read, the manufacturer's drug-package insert. Pharmacy computer-printouts are far less complete. Use the Internet to research medications. Many drug manufacturers publish their drug-inserts online. Also, Dr. Cohen maintains a website at medicationsense.com.
Protect yourself and take charge of your health. Learn all you can about the use and inherent dangers of drugs. Learn to communicate effectively with your doctor and pharmacist about the drugs being prescribed.
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