Using medications correctly and safely

If all goes well, medicines will make you healthier, but it is important that you use the right medicines in a safe way. Other (alternative) medicines, vitamins, herbal preparations, alcohol, smoking or foods can influence the effect of the medicine you are taking. Every drug has side effects. What should you pay attention to when taking medication and what can the Medido care robot do?

Take medications correctly and safely

Sometimes your body needs outside help in the form of medicines. If you take medication, it is important to do so correctly.

  • Skipping pills
  • Adjust dosage
  • Do not take medications for longer or shorter than necessary
  • Medicine check
  • Take the medications regularly
  • Antibiotic treatment
  • Prescription
  • Side effects
  • Stop preventive medications
  • Taper off
  • Ordering medicines via the internet (so-called internet pills)
  • Multiple medications (polypharmacy)
  • The pill and medicine
  • Alternative medicines, medicines without a prescription, nutritional supplements (vitamins and herbal preparations) and regular medicines
  • Painkillers
  • Food and medicine
  • Alcohol and medications
  • Smoking and medications
  • Switching from branded medicine to generic (unbranded) medicine
  • Medicine and driving
  • Second opinion
  • Kidney function
  • On holiday
  • Never leave medications or the like lying around
  • Care robot Medido
  • Medication use and stomach pain and intestinal complaints
  • Second-hand medicines

 

Skipping pills

Never skip medications on your own. With some medications it is not a disaster if you miss a pill. For others, the consequences can be dire. Think of the pill for women. Forgetting once is not a problem if it is used to reduce PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), but if the pill is (also) used as a contraceptive, it no longer works and pregnancy may result.

Adjust dosage

Never adjust the dosage of the medication yourself. Do not take more or less medication than prescribed. Always discuss this with your doctor first.

Do not take medications for longer or shorter than necessary

Check occasionally whether you still need to take all your medications. It is a good idea to check with your GP once a year to see whether the dosage is still correct (for some medicines this needs to be done much more often) and whether the medicines still need to be taken. It is quite possible that high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels have been reduced by exercising more or/and making dietary changes.

Medicine check

People over 65 must have a medication check every year if they receive at least five different medications daily and have reduced kidney function, have recently fallen or regularly forget to take their medication. During the medicine check, the GP, pharmacist and the patient exchange information about what diagnosis has been made and what exactly the person is taking. You can also request the medicine check yourself. The director of the Institute for Responsible Use of Medicines recommends the medicine check to anyone who takes more than five different medicines.

Take the medications regularly

Some medications work less well if they are taken irregularly. For example, with blood pressure lowering drugs, failure to take them regularly can lead to (dangerous) fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rhythm.

Antibiotic treatment

It is important to complete the antibiotic treatment completely. Sometimes the symptoms disappear before the end of the treatment and people feel completely better again. However, you must also take the last medications to ensure that all bacteria that caused the disease are dead. This prevents some bacteria from surviving and then becoming resistant, so that a subsequent course of the same medication no longer helps.

Prescription

Read the package leaflet. The package leaflet contains information about the use of the medicine. Medicine manufacturers are legally obliged to list all side effects that have ever occurred in the package leaflet. There may be many, but it is also very possible that you will not experience any side effects.

Side effects

Keep an eye on any side effects of medications. Read the package leaflet and be alert to any side effects. Do not hesitate to contact your GP, there may be another medicine available. Even if you suddenly experience other complaints that are not included in the list of side effects, it is important to report this to your doctor or pharmacist.

Stop preventive medications

Some medicines have a preventive effect. The medicine then seems to do nothing. If you have any doubts about the usefulness of this, request a consultation with your GP so that he or she can explain why taking this medicine is important. Also be informed about (possible) side effects, so that a proper assessment of the pros and cons of taking the medicine can be made.

Taper off

There are medications that you cannot simply stop taking, but must be reduced slowly. For example, with long-term use of antidepressants and sleeping and tranquilizer pills. If you suddenly stop taking these medications, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, always do this in consultation with your doctor.

Ordering medicines via the internet (so-called internet pills)

Be extra critical when ordering medicines via the internet (so-called internet pills). Sites of fake providers often look very professional and are indistinguishable from the real thing. Even if you only order well-known substances via the internet, this can be dangerous. It may contain more or less active substance. Some medicines have been contaminated with other medicines because the machines were not cleaned properly). Also be careful when ordering so-called self-care medicines via the internet. Only order medicines via the internet from a reliable provider. Read more via the central government.

Multiple medications (polypharmacy)

Discuss combinations of multiple medications with your GP, specialist and/or pharmacist. If you are already taking one medication or several medications (also called polypharmacy), it is important to always report this to your GP, specialist and pharmacist when you are prescribed a new medication. Some medications cannot be taken together. One drug can counteract the effect of another drug. It is also possible that medications enhance each other’s effect or that unpleasant side effects occur due to the combination. Sometimes this causes people to end up in hospital, sometimes the health damage occurs very slowly. Therefore, (if possible) always take with you an overview from the pharmacy of your current medication use and supplement this with information about alternative medicines and supplements that you use.

The pill and medicine

The pill for women is not only a contraceptive but also a medicine. It is a hormone preparation that tricks the woman’s body into thinking she is pregnant. In combination with (other) medications, the effect of the pill is sometimes lost and as a woman you can still become pregnant. Therefore, always report the use of the pill to your doctor or pharmacist; you may have to (temporarily) use other contraception. In addition, it is also possible that the hormones in the pill influence the effect of the prescribed medicine.

Alternative medicines, medicines without a prescription, nutritional supplements (vitamins and herbal preparations) and regular medicines

Discuss the combination of alternative medicines, non-prescription medicines, nutritional supplements (vitamins and herbal preparations) and regular medicines. You often do not realize that alternative medicines such as a homeopathic remedy or the use of nutritional supplements can also influence the effect of regular medicines. For example, a cream against athlete’s foot can slow down the breakdown of certain medications, making you more likely to experience side effects. St. John’s wort (plant extract), which is known as a mood enhancer, can be dangerous in combination with antidepressants of the SSRI type.
The spice turmeric (also called turmeric or tumeric) contains curcumin. This substance can influence the effect of medicines. The herb is not only widely used in Asian cuisine, but also in some homeopathic medicines.
Therefore, in addition to a current medication overview from the pharmacist, also bring an overview of the other medicines and nutritional supplements that you use.

Painkillers

Pay attention to the combination of painkillers and medications. Painkillers that are available at the drugstore or supermarket can influence the effect of regular medicines. For example, they enhance the effect of blood-thinning medications, which can cause internal bleeding.

Food and medicine

The use of some foods can also affect the effectiveness of some medications. This may also be the case if the food and medicine are taken separately at a different time. Grapefruit stimulates the absorption of medicines and therefore their effect, so there is a risk of ingesting too much of the active substance.
St. John’s wort sometimes has an inhibiting effect on the absorption of a medicine, which means there is a risk that you will not consume enough of the active substance. With certain types of antibiotics and medications against osteoporosis, it is important that there is at least two hours between the intake of dairy products and the medication. The calcium in the milk product can bind to these medications in the intestines, causing the active substances to be absorbed less well.

Alcohol and medications

Pay attention to the combination of alcohol and medication. Many medications interact poorly with alcohol. Always check the package leaflet.

Smoking and medications

Smoking can affect the effectiveness of medications. Cigarette smoke contains substances (PAHs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) that can enter your blood and affect the effect of medicines. Once in your blood, these substances influence how your body responds to medications. There may be (more) side effects and/or the medicines may have a worse effect. Therefore, always consult your doctor if you smoke and also if you smoke more or less.

Switching from branded medicine to generic (unbranded) medicine

Be careful when switching from a branded medicine to a generic (unbranded) medicine. In general, switching from a brand-name drug to a generic (unbranded) drug is safe. Generic medicines are (much) cheaper. A generic medicine must contain the same amounts of active ingredients as the original medicine. The excipients may differ. Because of this, the level of absorption and effectiveness may be different for some generic drugs than for some brand-name drugs. Every medicine can have side effects. So be alert when switching from a branded medicine to a generic medicine.

Medicine and driving

Some medicines have a yellow sticker on them indicating that the medicines affect driving ability. The difficult thing is that you often don’t notice this yourself, which means that not everyone takes this warning seriously. Not everyone feels drowsy or sleepy when taking the medicine in question, but your reaction time does decrease without you realizing it or you have less control over your muscles. As a result, you may react just a second too late when a playing child crosses the road unexpectedly. You can check whether a medication affects your driving skills at www.rijveiligmetmedicen.nl. Consult with your doctor whether there are alternatives or whether it is possible to take the medicine at a different time.

Second opinion

If necessary, request a second opinion. If you have doubts about the usefulness of a particular medicine, side effects, etc., it is possible to request a second opinion from another GP or pharmacist.

Kidney function

In people with poor kidney function with a value lower than 60, the kidneys function so poorly that the residues and breakdown products of some medications remain in the body longer. This increases the risk of side effects and even more kidney damage. Therefore, if you have diabetes, cardiovascular disease or are over 65 years of age, give the pharmacist permission to request your kidney function from your GP. It can then be checked whether you are receiving the right medication and whether the amount is appropriate.

On holiday

Take the medicines you really need with you on holiday. You never know whether the pharmacist abroad sells the same brand and whether the amount of active ingredient is the same.

Never leave medications or the like lying around

What is good for one person can be harmful (and sometimes even fatal) for another. Therefore, never leave medicines, vitamins and the like lying around. Some medicines have very attractive colors and even without them, they look like candy to children. Pets sometimes come across a pill and eat it without hesitation. So pay close attention to where you keep your medicines. The bedside table seems like an ideal place, but this turns out not to be the case if the (small) children are allowed to play anywhere. Bags and handbags are also not always a safe place. Always think carefully about where you put your medications when you have or visit children or pets.

Care robot Medido

Care robot Medido is a medicine robot. It helps chronically ill elderly people to take the right pills at the right time. The pharmacist fills the robot. The robot will beep when a medicine needs to be taken. If the patient forgets to take a pill, a report will be sent to home care.

Medication use and stomach pain and intestinal complaints

Medication use can lead to stomach pain and intestinal complaints. Some painkillers and antidepressants can cause complaints and pose a risk of damage to the stomach or intestines. If you have complaints, consult a doctor whether it is possible to take less of these medications or ask for a stomach protector.

Second-hand medicines

Do not take over medicines from someone, as there is no control over the quality and dosage.

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