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Are you using medicine safely?

The most important step to medication safety is to educate yourself about the specific drugs you and your family are taking and the conditions they are intended to treat. Medications are intended to make you better, but they can cause harm if they are used or stored improperly. Some side effects are mild like an upset stomach while others can be more serious like liver damage.
Do you take a long list of drugs to manage serious health problems? Or do you simply reach for an over-the-counter medication from time to time? Either way, there's a lot you can do to make sure you get the most benefit from the medication and stay safe in the process. These medication safety tips are a good place to start.
Tips to avoid medication mistakes
 
By following a few rules, you could save yourself or someone else a lot of worry, get the most out of your medicines and keep everyone safe.
To make medicine use SAFER:
1.   Find out the name of your medication. Rather than simply letting your doctor write a prescription and send you on your way, be sure to ask the name of the medication.
2.    Ask questions about how to use the medication.
3.   Know what your medication is for.  It's important to understand your medication because you are more likely to use it correctly, more likely to know what to expect from the medication, and better able to report what you are using and problems to your doctors and pharmacist.
4.   Read medicine labels and follow directions. Before you use any medication, you should know when to use it, how much to use, and how long to use it. Be sure to read the medication label every time.
5.   Keep all of your health care providers informed about your medications and dietary supplements (including vitamins and herbals). Make it a habit of showing your list of medications to all your health care professionals at every visit to the doctor, the pharmacy, and the hospital. Include on the list all your prescription and over-the-counter medications, and dietary supplements, including vitamins and herbals.
6.   Keep the list of your medications with you at all times and let a loved one know.  In an emergency, that person will be able to inform your doctors of the medications and dietary supplements you use.
These DOs and DON'Ts can help you make sure that your medication works safely to improve your health.
Dos;
·      Take each medication exactly as it has been prescribed.
·      Make sure that all your doctors know all medications you are taking.
·      Let your doctors know about any other over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements, or herbs that you use.
·      Try to use the same pharmacy to fill all your prescriptions, so that they can help you keep track of everything you're taking.
·      Keep medications out of the reach of children and pets.
DON'Ts;
·      DON'T change your medication dose or schedule without consulting with your doctor.
·      DON'T use medication prescribed for someone else,
·      DON'T crush or break pills unless your doctor instructs you to do so,
·      DON'T use medication that has passed its expiration date,
·      DON'T store your medications in locations that are unsecure and ensure that the drugs are kept under the recommended temperature.
 
Ways medications are not used correctly
Improper use;  happens when consumers do not understand or follow directions for taking medications, and often results in serious consequences. For example, many Kenyans use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and ibuprofen for pain, and do not realize that improper use of these medications can lead to kidney failure or gastrointestinal bleeding. To avoid improper use, make sure you understand and follow instructions.
Overuse: happens when too much or the wrong strength of a medication is taken. For example, most people do not benefit from taking antibiotics for colds and other respiratory problems, but prescriptions are given to patients for these conditions.
Underuse: happens when a prescribed medication is not taken when it should be. Skipping doses of a medication or taking the wrong medication can ultimately lead to hospitalization or other serious consequences.
Only use the right /recomemnded dosage. Overuse or underuse of medicines can be dangerous and may lead to serious consequences such as AMR.
Categories of medicines 
Medicines can be obtained in different ways depending on their classification: The two categories of medicine are prescription and over-the-counter (OTC).
Prescription medicines are medicines you can get only with a prescription (order) from your doctor. Prescription only medicines are dispensed by a pharmacist and are available only from approved pharmacy. Only buy prescription medications from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) approved health facilities if they have been prescribed to you by a reputable and duly registered health practitioner. Ensure you are only served by qualified personnel in these premises. All pharmacies have been issued with health safety code and you can sms the code to 21031 free of charge to verify the registration status of the pharmaceutical outlet.
Sometimes you can choose between a generic medicine and a brand name medicine. Generic and brand name medicines work the same way, but generic medicine usually costs less. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist, for more information about generic medicines.
If you have side effects or react to a drug/medicine get in touch with your doctor immediately or call PPB on 0720608811 or Visit PPB website, www.pv.pharmacyboardkenya.org  to report adverse drug reactions or email info@pharmacyboardkenya.org, facebook: Pharmacy and Poisons Board Twitter: PPB Kenya 
Over-the-counter medicines  are medicines you can buy at a store without a prescription. Over-the-counter medicines are available from retail outlets such as a supermarket or petrol station. Some examples of OTC medicines include: Cold and flu medicines, Pain medicines like aspirin, paracetamol, and ibuprofen, Allergy medicines, Sleep aids, Toothpaste with fluoride. Self-medication with OTC medicines could cause allergy, habituation, and addiction. While self-medication may result in faster access to medication and relief for a patient, it is not a completely safe practice.
Using medications safely means knowing when they're necessary — and when they're not. Always check with the doctor if you're unsure whether symptoms require treatment with medication. To ensure the safe use of prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, discuss your  symptoms with your doctor and pharmacist.

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