Your Health: Staying Safe with Medicine

Americans have come to rely on medicine to combat aches and pains to cancer.  This reliance on medication has lead to unrealistic expectations and a dangerous increase in drug overdose.  Here are some tips that can keep you safe with medicine.

Medicine Isn't Magic

Modern medicine is a wonderful thing but keeping your expectations in check is necessary. Having an expectation that medicine will completely aleviate pain or make you feel twenty years younger can lead to over dependency on drugs.  Most drugs will only help make pain manageable and not eliminate pain so you can lead as normal a life as possible.  What's the best prescription for pain? Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and getting plenty of exercise can help the body cope with pain.

Store Medicine Properly

Medicine should be stored in their original container in your medicine cabinet away from children. Certain types of medicines that should be stored in a refrigerator include: insulin, suspension and vial forms of medicines, soft gels, suppositories, cartridges, and certain nasal sprays.

Have an Annual Checkup

Having an annual checkup is critical to maintaining good health. While there isn't a standard set of tests for an annual checkup, your doctor will recommend blood work and other tests depending on your medical history. Cholesterol is something that your doctor will want to test for on a routine basis. Your doctor will refer you to a lab where a technician will draw blood using blood tubes and send them off for the testing ordered by your doctor.

Talk to Your Doctor

Mixing opioid pain meds with alcohol or other medications is a recipe for disaster.  Be sure to let your doctor know all of the medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, so that they can check for any drug interactions.

Monitor Senior Drug Use Closely

The risk of drug overdose rises dramatically for individuals taking pain medication, especially for those over the age of 55.  Health experts describe the problem as epidemic and list oxycodone, morphine, and hydrocodone as the most commonly abused medicines.   Older americans are sensitive to drug misuse for several reasons, they are more likely to suffer from chronic pain and be prescribed an opioid drug and second, as the body ages it's ability to clear drugs diminishes, so a safe dosage for a younger patient may be an overdose for an older patient.

Recent data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality shows deaths from overdose for those between the ages of 55-64 rose 700% from 1993 to 2012.  If you have a loved one in this age group monitor their use of medicine closely, it could very well save their life.

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