Are you making these common medicine mistakes?

Are you making these common medicine mistakes?

Even non-prescription drugs can be dangerous when not used properly. Could you be misusing any of these drugs? Many people do and they don't know it. Make sure you're not making these common medicine mistakes 

It's important that you speak to a medical professional if you have a problem with prescription or non-prescription drug abuse. It's easier to face the problem early before it becomes more serious. For more support or to talk to someone about your drug use, visit FRANK or the NHS website. 

Paracetamol (Panadol)

Woman holding a tablet and a glass of water Credit: Cunaplus_M.Faba

Paracetamol has few toxic effects if you follow directions, but many people take too much of it. Overdose or misuse can cause serious or fatal kidney or liver damage. Don't take it steadily for more than ten days. 

Excessive use can result in rebound headaches when you stop taking it. Keep long-term intake below 4g a day. Signs of chronic overdose include bleeding, bruising, sore throat and malaise. 

"Don't drink alcohol while taking paracetamol or you risk moderate-severe liver damage"

Check other drugs (such as cold medicines) for the same ingredients to be sure you're not overdosing and don't drink alcohol while taking paracetamol or you risk moderate-severe liver damage

If you are too sick to eat, don't take this drug. Taking it while fasting increases the risk of liver problems. 

Antacids (such as Alu-Tab, Mylanta, Dexsal)

Overuse is common, since people frequently reach for these to cure the ill effects of a poor diet, heartburn, indigestion, smoking, drinking and stress. Taking too much can cause constipation (possibly leading to intestinal obstruction, especially in elderly people) and kidney damage. 

Brands that contain magnesium can cause diarrhoea or dehydration. Frequent or extended use of these can lead to laxative dependence. Products that contain calcium, if taken too often, may cause excessive calcium levels, possibly leading to kidney stones. 

Take all antacids 2-3 hours before or after your other medications to avoid possible interactions, and don't exced recommended doses. 

Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Bayer, Aspro, Brufen, Nurofen)

A woman with her fingers to her ears on blue background Credit: microgen

Aspirin may be used too often or in amounts beyond the recommended dosage. Stomach irritation and stomach bleeding are the biggest risks. Watch for the signs of stomach irritation, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. 

To minimise stomach irritation, take it with food, milk or a full glass of water and don't lie down for 15-30 minutes after taking to avoid irritating the oesophagus. 

"Frequent, excessive use of aspirin for headaches can result in rebound headaches when you stop taking it"

Don't take constantly for more than 10 days. Frequent, excessive use of aspirin for headaches—especially in productions that also contain caffeine—can result in rebound headaches when you stop taking it. Ringing in the ears may signal that you are taking too much. 

Don't take daily aspirin for your heart without talking to your doctor first. Since aspirin increase the risk of bleeding, avoid taking it a week or two before any surgery, including dental surgery

Cough suppressants and expectorants (such as Actacode, Benadry, Logicin, Robitussin) 

Some brands contain up to forty per cent alcohol, so avoid drinking alcohol when taking these. 

Don't take an expectorant and a cough suppressant at the same time. 

Don't take too much for too long; some of the prescription cough syrups contain narcotics and can be habit forming.

Diet acids (such as Duromine, Reductil) 

A woman holding her throat where her thyroid is Credit: stefanamer

In their quest for fast and dramatic results, some people overdose on these and end up in emergency rooms. Side effects include anxiety, restlessness, dizziness, insomnia, headache and racing heartbeat. 

People with hypertension, heart conditions or thyroid disease shouldn't take them at all. Try increasing your activity level and reduce your food intake instead of using them, but if you are looking to lose weight it's always best to talk with a medical professional first. 

Laxatives (such as Actilax, Agarol, Senokot, Metamucil) 

They're used inappropriately by many older persons who believe they need to have a daily bowel movement (something that's not necessary, as long as stools pass easily). 

Some people use them innapropriately for weight control, but they're not effective—food is already absorbed before the laxative can work. 

"Laxatives are not effective for weight loss—food is already absorbed before the laxative can work. "

Overuse can lead to a frustrating constipation-diarrhoea cycle. This can hinder your ability to move your bowels and may deplete body fluids and essential electrolytes. it can also affect your absorption of vitamin D and calcium. 

Don't use them daily for longer than one week without your doctor's advice. Avoid constipation by eating more high-fibre foods, drinking eight glasses of water a day and increasing your level of physical activity. 

If you already overuse laxatives, see your doctor. You need medical supervision to stop using them gradually. 

Nasal decongestants (such as Dimetapp, Nasex, Vicks Sinus) 

A man using a nasal spray Credit: Image Source

Nasal sprays can work so well that some people begin to rely on them all the time. But prolonded use may cause nasal blood vessels to remain swollen, leading to a condition called 'rebound congestion'. In other words, it can create the problem it's trying to solve. 

Restrict use to twice a day for no longer than 3 days. Watch for signs of overuse, including inflamed sinuses and nosebleeds. 

Sleep aids (such as Unisom, Panadol Night) 

People who rely on sleeping pills too often can easily develop a tolerance to them. This would mean that they need to take larger and larger doses to get the same effect. 

Some older people have trouble metabolising the pills, which can remain in their system for up to ninety six hours and compromise their alertness. The active ingredient (diphenhydramine) is also found in many non-prescription cold and allergy preparations. Don't take both at once. 

If you have liver, kidney or respiratory problems, enlarged prostrate or glaucoma, consult your doctor before taking any nonprescription sleep aid. 

Banner credit: Mykola Sosiukin

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