House Calls

FALL 2016

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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Once your shopping list is in order and you're at the drugstore, take time to read each and every label before dropping the product in your cart. "I cannot stress enough the importance of being label literate," says Hammond. Knowing which active ingredients are in the medications you typically turn to can help prevent accidental overdosing. "Say you regularly take Benadryl for allergies, and occasionally use an OTC sleep aid for restless nights. Then one evening, you pop some Tylenol PM for a headache. All three have the active ingredient diphenhydramine, so you've just taken three times the safe amount," says Hammond. Reading the drug facts label can also help you shop smarter. "Labels can be misleading. For example, Excedrin Extra Strength and Excedrin Migraine are the exact same product, they're just marketed differently," Hammond adds. If you've read the fine print and still have questions, refer to the pharmacist. Be sure you understand proper dosing instructions, warnings, and possible side effects, and know which medications are and are not safe to mix. "If you use prescriptions, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before self-medicating," says Dr. Detar. Others at higher risk for adverse reactions to OTC drugs and who should refer to their doctor first are those with bleeding disorders, asthma, diabetes, enlarged prostate, epilepsy, glaucoma, gout, heart disease, high blood pressure, Parkinson's disease, mental health disorders, and immune, kidney, endocrine, or liver problems. Finally, be sure all packaging is in pristine condition before purchasing the medicines. To care for your cache of OTC drugs, keep them away from extreme heat, cold, humidity, and light. "The worst place to store medication is in the bathroom as the space gets hot and steamy from the shower," says Hammond. They should also be stored up and out of reach of young children and pets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 60,000 kids in the U.S. are rushed to the ER annually for having ingested medicine left within reach. "Pills look inviting to toddlers and pets, like candy that's fun to chew on," says Hammond. He and Dr. Detar recommend storing meds in a high kitchen cabinet, inside an uppermost dresser drawer, or on an out-of-reach closet shelf, and locking the cabinet or container, if possible. "When you store medicine, use a failure-mode approach," says Hammond. "Rather than assuming you've found a safe spot, ask yourself what exists to make the space unsafe then address those issues." Ask houseguests to be mindful of where they leave their medications when visiting, and keep pills and vitamins in their original lock-topped, labeled containers. In the case of accidental ingestion, immediately call the American Association of Poison Control Centers, 1 (800) 222-1222. To ensure your medicines stay safe and effective, sort through your stash once or twice a year to clean out those that are expired. Even if the date just recently passed, don't be tempted to hang onto them, say experts. "While we all know that nothing magical happens to a bottle marked EXP JUN1 between May 30 and June 2, it's not worth taking the chance," says Hammond. "Some medications lose their potency while others can change chemically over time." DANGEROUS DRUG DUOS If you take prescription medications or are dosing with multiple OTC drugs, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to be sure those combinations are safe. Here are a few examples of medicines that don't mix: • Blood pressure medicine is undermined by nasal decongestants, which can raise blood pressure. • Aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen taken together increases your risk of gastrointestinal ulcers and bleeding. • Blood thinners and aspirin combined raise the chance of internal bleeding. Mix uncrushed pills and capsules with an unpalatable substance like used coffee grounds, kitty litter, or dirt; seal in a plastic bag and place in the trash. Be sure to cross out any personal information on prescription bottles before recycling. When in doubt, turn medications in at your local pharmacy. Call your city or county government's trash/ recycling service to learn about any area medicine take-back programs, or visit disposemymeds.org to find a take-back facility near you. OUT WITH THE OLD These days, experts frown upon flushing expired meds, as doing so can taint rivers, streams, and oceans. So how do you dump your expired prescription or over-the-counter drugs? "The biggest consideration when disposing of medicines is to do it in a manner that prevents them from falling into unintended hands," says Hammond. 26 { fall 2016 } h o u s e c a l l s 35% of adults INCORRECTLY THINK it is safe to take two medicines with the same active ingredient STOCK UP STORE THEM SMARTLY

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