Tips for Making Your Medications Safer

Tips for Making Your Medications Safer

When it comes to taking medicine, a surprising number of people aren't doing it right. In one recent study, 70% of parents gave little kids the wrong dose of liquid medicine. Other research shows that two-thirds of adults don’t finish their prescription drugs, and plenty skip refills of important meds for ongoing conditions including heart disease and diabetes. That can be as dangerous as forgetting to put your foot on the brake pedal at intersections. Here's how to get the right stuff at any age:

  • For kids: Measure liquid meds with an oral medication syringe. To use: Suck up the right dose, then gently squirt small amounts between your child's gum and cheek so he or she can swallow comfortably.
  • For teens: Talk about OTCs. Most teens didn't know the basics about drugstore safety. Read medication labels and dosage directions with your teens, and discuss the dangers of taking too much: specifically, liver damage from too much acetaminophen and gastrointestinal bleeding from too much ibuprofen or aspirin.
  • Adults: Refill by mail. Mail-order pharmacies are so convenient that at least one study found that using them led to fewer gaps in prescription drug usage.
  • Seniors: Ask your doctor to simplify your prescriptions. It's tough remembering when to take everything. See if your doc will help you get on a regimen where you take most of your medications at the same time of day, rather than scattered throughout the day.

Medically reviewed in July 2019.

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