November 07, 2016

Prescription for Good Health

It’s often said that laughter is the best medicine; and many agree that regular doses of humor can play a part in the healing process. But, laughter, alone, cannot cure illness and we are fortunate to live in a time when medications are available to prevent disease and provide relief from illness and injuries.

Here are a few things to consider when your doctor prescribes a medication:

Name Brand vs. Generics

Many prescription drugs come in name brand and generic versions. Generic drugs usually appear after a name brand product has been on the market for a number of years. A generic drug is the same formula as the name brand and usually less expensive. Most doctors today are sensitive to keeping costs down, but, when in doubt, ask your doctor if a generic version of a drug exists. In rare cases, there’s a sound reason why the name brand product is better for you, but why spend money when you don’t have to?

Side Effects

Both prescription and over-the-counter drugs can, and sometimes do, cause side effects. Some side effects can be minimal and some life-threatening. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the drugs you’re taking, what to expect, and what to do if any problems arise. It’s better to have this information in advance so you know how to handle an adverse reaction..


The price of prescription drugs can vary greatly and different health insurance plans have different rules about what they will pay for and how much they will pay. In some cases, financial assistance may be available for high priced drugs. Don’t be afraid to discuss the cost of a drug with your doctor and pharmacist to find medicine that is affordable.


Buy your medications from a reliable source. Some drugs advertised online come from countries whose oversight and safeguards are not as stringent as ours. Do some research before buying medications from abroad or other unconventional sources.

Take as Prescribed

When doctors prescribe medications, they will tell you how much to take and how often. Ask questions if you don’t understand the instructions. If you are unable to follow those instructions for any reason, tell you doctor so you get the care your need.

Understand that antibiotics are only effective against illnesses caused by bacteria and not viruses, such as colds or flu. The overuse of antibiotics is leading to “super bugs” that don’t respond to modern antibiotics. Simple tests can determine whether an illness is bacterial or viral, so don’t insist on taking an antibiotic that won’t treat your condition. It may hurt you in the long run.

If you’re told to take a drug, especially an antibiotic, for a specific number of days, follow through, even if you feel better sooner.

Do not take medications prescribed to others and don’t offer your prescribed medications to family and friends. Medications are powerful drugs and should not be shared with others.

“Just a Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down”

If you, or a family member, have trouble taking a pill, speak with your doctor or nurse. There are simple techniques to help, such as putting a pill in a spoonful of ice cream, applesauce or yogurt, or tilting your head back or to the side. Likewise, for people with dexterity challenges, check with your pharmacist about different options for bottling medicine or measuring liquid doses.

Storage and Safekeeping

The medications that keep us healthy can also do great harm if not treated carefully. They are the leading cause of poisoning in children. So keep all medications, vitamins and supplements, whether prescription or over-the-counter, away from kids.

Store drugs in cool, dry places, except those needing refrigeration. Medications are packaged with information sheets on proper storage. Read those carefully and consult with your pharmacist if you have any questions.

Some drugs do not interact well with others. To prevent bad reactions or complications, keep a list of all your medications, share it with your doctor and pharmacist, and ask whether adding a new drug is safe.

The more you know about your medications, the better you can manage your own care. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and always call your doctor if a medication causes bad reactions. For more information on how to partner with your doctor to stay healthy, visit