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The overwhelming majority of the world’s population has to take, and does take, various types of medications every year or even every month.It is therefore important to know how to take medication correctly.
The above statement applies to the newly born babies right through to the oldest persons on Earth. It applies to males and females. It applies to medical, surgical, and psychiatric patients alike.
But it also applies to perfectly healthy people. Healthy people take food supplements and similar pharmacological preparations, simply to improve health.
This 2-part article will deal only with medications that are taken into the body via the mouth or by ingestion. The aim is mostly to help people who find themselves having to take the medication outside a health facility such as a hospital. It is to teach and advise them in regard to administering and storing the medicine themselves.
Links to quality, affordable products which help with the whole process of medicating at home are provided in this article and the subsequent one. We begin with this time keeper:
DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEDICATION …
Medication can be taken for short periods of, for example, hours to weeks, in which case it is called Acute Medication. But it can be taken for long periods e. g. months to years or lifelong, in which case it is called Chronic Medication. Medication can also be prescribed for “when required” or “PRN” use.
The purpose of taking the medication also varies. It could be just to enhance health and wellness as with vitamins, minerals and other supplements. This is a multi-million dollar industry!
Or the purpose could be the treatment of, or symptomatic relief from, minor ailments. Minor ailments include mild pain or the common cold. But it can also be for the treatment of serious or even life-threatening conditions, such as heart failure, cancer or severe allergy.
… AND DIFFERENT FORMULATIONS
There are different preparations of medication. These are formulated for use in different age groups and under different circumstances.
There are liquid forms of medication, such as syrups, suspensions and elixirs. These are mostly used for children. But there are medications that exist in liquid form only, even at the adult strength.
Liquid forms of medication can be useful in the case of patients who are unable to swallow solids. Examples of patients who may be unable to swallow solids are those who have severe fungal infections of the mouth or throat, pain or severe weakness.
Pills or tablets are common, solid forms of medication. They exist in many different sizes, from the minute ones of a milligram or less, to the big ones of hundreds or thousands of milligrams.
Pills or tablets are coloured to enable identification and differentiation. They may be tasteless, have a pleasant taste, or have an unpleasant taste such as bitterness. Chewable tablets are given a pleasant taste by means of additives.
Capsules are solid forms of medication which are essentially powders encased in small, cylindrical digestible plastic containers. They overcome many of the problems of tablets, such as bitterness.
Some medications for oral ingestion exist in pure powder form. This is usually to aid rapid dissolving and consequently rapid action.
Lozenges are suckable tablets that are used for the treatment of mouth and throat / oesophageal problems, mostly painful ones but also infectious diseases like thrush.
As mentioned in the Introduction, there are indeed other formulations, such as drops for the eyes and ears, intravenous and intramuscular injections, pessaries and enemas, creams, ointments and lotions. But these are not going to be discussed in this article.
IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING YOUR MEDICATION
It is very important to know the above facts about medications. This helps patients and their families or other caregivers to understand the whats, whys, whens, etc, of the medications under their (often temporary) jurisdiction. This improves adherence to treatment regimens.
Healthcare Workers usually strive to provide information about medicines. But patients and their caregivers should please ensure that they have any uncertainties clarified.
Critical medications that should be taken lifelong should be known. They must never be absent from stocks due to running out, spillage, soiling, or any other mishap.
Patients need to be clear about medications that are prescribed for a fixed time period, and should not seek to extend the prescribed course. An example of fixed duration treatment would be a course of antibiotics.
Mistakes do happen, wherein sometimes patients having refills of their medication, could be short of some of them. It helps if patients know their full medicines list and use. In this way they cannot take comfort with going home with just some of their medications, which could be non-essentials like supplements and painkillers.
In this first part of how to take medication, we have introduced the important subject of medications. We have answered the question, “what is medications”? And we have highlighted why it is important to know your medication.
In the remaining part of this discussion of how to take medication, which can be found (here), we will go deeper into the safe handling of medication. We will give guidance on whether medications should be taken before or after meals. And we will address the issue of liquids to take medication with.
We will also explore some common mistakes in the handling, storage and usage of medications in the home. Advice will be offered on how to avoid or rectify these mistakes.
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