A medication is a substance that is taken to prevent or to cure a medical problem. The proper use of medications is a very important aspect of your management after spinal cord injury. Taken correctly, medications have a positive effect on your body. However, if care is not taken, medications can cause many problems.
Once you leave the hospital, you will be responsible for the medications you take. In order to increase the effectiveness of your medications, it is important that you understand their use. Specifically, you need to know:
* The name of each medication you are taking
* The purpose of each medication
* The possible side effects of each medication, and
* The problems that could result if the medication is taken in combination with other medications, certain foods, alcohol, etc.
Following are precautions that you, as an individual, can take to ensure that the medications are taken safely:
1. If your doctor prescribes an unfamiliar medication, ask him/her about it. Write down the information he/she gives you. Other sources of information are your nurse, your pharmacist and the literature that may be enclosed with the medication. Questions you should ask include:
* Can I take this in combination with other medications?
* Are there any special precautions I need to take when using this medication?
* Can I drink alcohol while taking this medication?
* Should it be kept in a refrigerator?
* Should it be taken before or after a meal?
* What are the possible side effects of taking this medication?
2. Read and follow the specific directions on the label. Take the medication exactly as directed, at the right time, and for the full length of time prescribed by your doctor. If you are using an over-the-counter (nonprescription) medication, follow the directions on the label, unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
3. Tell each of your doctors and nurses what medications you are or have taken in the past few weeks. Don’t forget nonprescription medicines, such as aspirin, laxatives, and antacids.
4. Know all medications to which you are allergic.
5. Report to your doctor any unusual symptoms that occur when taking the medication. Remember: each person reacts differently to each medication.
6. Before having any kind of surgery (including dental surgery) or emergency treatment, tell the doctor or dentist about any medication you are taking.
7. Destroy old medications by flushing them down the toilet. Medications may change characteristics as they age, so an old medication may not only be useless, it may be dangerous.
8. Keep all medications out of reach of children.
PoinTIS Copyright © 1998 the Louis Calder Memorial Library of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, all rights reserved.