“Write down the name and important facts about each medicine, vitamin, and herb you take. Note any side effects or problems you have taking your medicines”.1

Umbrella
What may the Medicines Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Drugs
  • Medications
  • Medicines
  • Nonprescription Drugs/Medicines
  • OTC Drugs/Medicines
  • Over-the-Counter Drugs/Medicines (OTC)
  • Pills
  • Prescription Drugs/Medicines

Prescription Medicines

What are prescription medicines?

DotS the definition of prescription medicines may vary. In Safe Use of Medicines for Older Adults: What Are Medicines? What Are Drugs? the (United States) National Institute on Aging’s (NIA) definition is:

  • “Prescriptions. What you can get only with a doctor’s order (for example, pills to lower your cholesterol or an asthma inhaler)”.2

Nonprescription Medicines

What are nonprescription medicines?

DotS the definition of nonprescription medicines may vary. In Understanding Over-the-Counter Medicines the (United States) Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) definition is:

“Over-the-counter medicine is also known as OTC or nonprescription medicine. All these terms refer to medicine that you can buy without a prescription. They are safe and effective when you follow the directions on the label and as directed by your health care professional”.3

The NIA’s definition is:

  • “Over-the-counter pills, liquids, or creams. What you buy without a prescription (for example, pills for headaches or chew tablets for heartburn)”.4

Side Effects

What are side effects?

DotS the definition of side effects may vary. The NIA’s definition is:

“Unwanted or unexpected symptoms or feelings that occur when you take medicine are called side effects”.5

What are some side effects?

The NIA explain:

“Side effects can be relatively minor, such as a headache or a dry mouth. They can also be life-threatening, such as severe bleeding or irreversible damage to the liver or kidneys. Medications’ side effects also can affect your driving”.6

In Finding and Learning About Side Effects (Adverse Reactions): From Minor To Life Threatening – Reducing Your Risk the FDA elaborate on:

  • “Ask your health care professional about any possible side effects and what, if any steps should be taken to reduce the risk when you are prescribed a drug. For example, he or she may recommend taking the drug with food to lower the chance of getting nausea”.7

Drug Interactions

May drugs have interactions?

Yes. In Understanding Drug Interactions the (Australian) NPS MedicineWise [National Prescribing Service] explain:

“Sometimes one medicine can mix badly with another in your body, and this can change how strongly the medicines work or whether they have side effects. This is called an interaction, and it can also happen when medicines mix with certain foods or drinks (including alcohol)”.8

Dietary Supplements

May some dietary supplements be harmful?

In Using Dietary Supplements Wisely: What the Science Says About the Safety and Side Effects of Dietary Supplements the (United States) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) elaborate on:

  • “Some dietary supplements can be good for your health, while others haven’t been proven to work”.9

Alcohol

Can alcohol have harmful interactions with some medicines?

Yes. In Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol With Medicines the (United States) National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse explain:

“Some medicines that you might never have suspected can react with alcohol, including many medications which can be purchased “over-the-counter”—that is, without a prescription. Even some herbal remedies can have harmful effects when combined with alcohol”.10

The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) also note:

  • “Alcohol has harmful interactions with many medications, even ones you may not think about, such as medicines for arthritis, indigestion or heartburn, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and more. Check out which ones here”.11

Internet

Can medicines be purchased via the Internet?

On page two in their pamphlet Looking for Reliable Health Information? Health and Medic@l Information on the Internet: Ask Your Doctor for Advice the (International) HONcode Foundation caution:

Medicines

“Do not buy drugs over the Internet and do not base your medical decisions solely on information found on the Internet. Before changing your strategy for care, talk to your doctor.

Visiting a website or obtaining information online does not replace a doctor’s visit”.12

In Quick Tips for Buying Medicines Over the Internet the FDA’s tips are:

  • “Make sure the site requires a prescription and has a pharmacist available for questions
  • Buy only from licensed pharmacies located in the United States. BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy has more information about finding safe and legal online pharmacies
  • Don’t provide personal information such as credit card numbers unless you are sure the site will protect them”.13

My Medicines

Is there a record keeper in which to record medicines taken?

In Medication Safety for Women: 2. Keep A Medicine List the FDA include a My Medicines record keeper in which you can:

“Write down the name and important facts about each medicine, vitamin, and herb you take. Note any side effects or problems you have taking your medicines. Keep the list with you all the time. Show it to your healthcare provider so that they know about all of the medicines you take”.14

In Medication Safety for Women: 2. Keep A Medicine List the FDA explain:

“My Medicines Record Keeper

Use the My Medicines brochure to help you keep track of the medicines you take. This brochure is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Polish, and 10 Asian/Pacific Islander languages.

In Safe Use of Medicines for Older Adults: Keeping Track of Your Medicines the NIA also provide “…some tips to help you keep track of all your medicines”.

Common Medicine Mistakes

What are some common medicine mistakes?

In Use Medicines Wisely the FDA include a guide “to learn four (4) ways to avoid common medicine mistakes”.

Safety

What are some tips on how to take medicines safely?

In Safe Use of Medicines for Older Adults: Taking Medicines Safely the NIA provide “…some tips to help you take your medicines safely”.

Health Care Provider

What if I would like help with my medicines?

If you would like help with your medicines, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this.

In Are You Considering A Complementary Health Approach? Take Charge of Your Health the NCCIH note:

  • “Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care”.16

The NIA explain:

“Make sure your doctor knows about ALL the medicines you take. This includes those prescribed by other doctors, as well as vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies, and over-the-counter drugs you use every now and then”.17

The NAMS note:

“To be safe, tell your healthcare provider about all botanical therapies you are considering and always stop all herbal treatments at least 2 weeks before any planned surgery”.18

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics related to Medicines?

In Health Topics A-Z you may find:

Links

Where may I find Links related to Medicines?

Your Country may have Links similar to:

Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Medication Safety for Women: 2. Keep A Medicine List. Content Current As of: 18 September 2018. Food and Drug Administration https://www.fda.gov/consumers/womens-health-topics/medication-safety-women Accessed: 14 October 2020
  2. Safe Use of Medicines for Older Adults: What Are Medicines? What Are Drugs? Content Reviewed: 26 June 2019. National Institute on Aging https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/safe-use-medicines-older-adults Accessed: 14 October 2020
  3. Understanding Over-the-Counter Medicines. Content Current As of: 16 May 2018. Food and Drug Administration https://www.fda.gov/drugs/buying-using-medicine-safely/understanding-over-counter-medicines Accessed: 14 October 2020
  4. Safe Use of Medicines for Older Adults: What Are Medicines? What Are Drugs? Content Reviewed: 26 June 2019. National Institute on Aging https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/safe-use-medicines-older-adults Accessed: 14 October 2020
  5. Safe Use of Medicines for Older Adults: Side Effects. Content Reviewed: 26 June 2019. National Institute on Aging https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/safe-use-medicines-older-adults Accessed: 14 October 2020
  6. Safe Use of Medicines for Older Adults: Side Effects. Content Reviewed: 26 June 2019. National Institute on Aging https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/safe-use-medicines-older-adults Accessed: 14 October 2020
  7. Finding and Learning About Side Effects (Adverse Reactions): From Minor To Life Threatening – Reducing Your Risk. Content Current As of: 19 July 2018. Food and Drug Administration https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-information-consumers/finding-and-learning-about-side-effects-adverse-reactions Accessed: 14 October 2020
  8. Drug Interactions. Date Published: 18 January 2017. NPS MedicineWise https://www.nps.org.au/consumers/understanding-drug-interactions Accessed: 14 October 2020
  9. Using Dietary Supplements Wisely: What the Science Says About the Safety and Side Effects of Dietary Supplements. Last Updated: January 2019. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/using-dietary-supplements-wisely Accessed: 14 October 2020
  10. Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol With Medicines. Revised: 2014. National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Medicine/medicine.htm Accessed: 14 October 2020
  11. Drink To Your Health At Menopause, or Not? How Much Is Bad? North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/exercise-and-diet/drink-to-your-health-at-menopause-or-not Accessed: 14 October 2020
  12. Looking for Reliable Health Information? Health and Medic@l Information on the Internet – Ask Your Doctor for Advice. Page 2. HONcode Foundation https://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Patients/visitor_safeUse2.html Accessed: 14 October 2020
  13. Quick Tips for Buying Medicines Over the Internet. Content Current As of: 25 February 2020. Food and Drug Administration https://www.fda.gov/drugs/buying-using-medicine-safely/quick-tips-buying-medicines-over-internet Accessed: 14 October 2020
  14. Medication Safety for Women: 2. Keep A Medicine List. Content Current As of: 18 September 2018. Food and Drug Administration https://www.fda.gov/consumers/womens-health-topics/medication-safety-women Accessed: 14 October 2020
  15. Medication Safety for Women: 2. Keep A Medicine List – My Medicines Record Keeper. Content Current As of: 18 September 2018. Food and Drug Administration https://www.fda.gov/consumers/womens-health-topics/medication-safety-women Accessed: 14 October 2020
  16. Are You Considering A Complementary Health Approach? Take Charge of Your Health. Last Updated: September 2016. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health https://nccih.nih.gov/health/decisions/consideringcam.htm Accessed: 14 October 2020
  17. Safe Use of Medicines for Older Adults: What Are Medicines? What Are Drugs? Content Reviewed: 26 June 2019. National Institute on Aging https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/safe-use-medicines-older-adults Accessed: 14 October 2020
  18. Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes: Do Mother Nature’s Treatments Help Hot Flashes? Black Cohosh. North American Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/natural-remedies-for-hot-flashes Accessed: 14 October 2020

Topic Last Updated: 19 November 2020 – Topic Last Reviewed: 14 October 2020
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