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Director of Pharmacy Gives Tips for Taking Medication Safely

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When it comes to taking prescription medication, there are some questions you should be asking to make sure you are taking it effectively and safely. NY1’s Jill Urban filed the following report.

From interactions to side effects to warnings, are you asking the all the right questions when given a prescription drug?

“Whenever you get a new prescription or even a prescription that you have been taking, you should always ask questions. Medications are complicated and there are lots of side effects and other things that you should be asking about,” said Gina Caliendo, director of pharmacy at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel.

Caliendo says often times people are don’t realize they are not taking prescription medication correctly. For example, always ask how your diet can influence the absorption or effectiveness of a drug.

“Always ask if you should take it with food, without food, if you should space it from certain foods, if there are certain foods you should absolutely avoid. Some medications you cannot take with alcohol. Some medications you cannot use with tuna fish or foods with other chemicals. Some medications you need to space from dairy products and some medications should not be taken with grapefruit juice,” Caliendo said.

Not only should you ask about side effects, but also how long after you have started or even stopped the drug can you see those symptoms.

Now another important to ask is time of day. For some medications it doesn’t matter when you take it, but for others, it could have a big impact. For example, some could affect the way you sleep so you should take them in the morning. And others, like cholesterol medication should be taken at night because of your natural body rhythm.

And ask about other drug interactions.

“You always want to make sure you tell all of your healthcare providers all the medications that you take, including herbal over the counter or vitamin products,” said Caliendo.

It’s also smart to about sun exposure because some medication can cause a severe skin reaction if you are in the sun too long.

Also how should you handle a missed dose? And if you have a hard time swallowing a pill, ask before you crush it.

“It’s fine for certain medication, but for others you can’t do that. It can lead to side effects or it can lead to the release of too much medication at one time,” said Caliendo.

So the next time you are at the pharmacy, make sure you understand what you should do to take that medication safely.

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