Medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) can help people.  But if they are not used properly or abused, they can cause serious harm.

Using medications safely and properly lowers the chance of side effects (both unwanted and unexpected effects). Side effects may be mild such as stomach upset or more severe, like damage to your liver.

To avoid problems and use medication safely, follow these simple steps:

  • Follow directions on both prescription and OTC medications.
  • If you do not understand the directions – how much to take, how often, etc, ask your health care provider or pharmacist.
  • Keep track of all medication, including prescription, OTC and supplements. Keep in mind birth control is medication.
  • Inform your health care provider of all medicines (prescription and OTC) and supplements that you are currently taking.
  • Inform your health care provider if you are pregnant or breast feeding and if you have had any side effects after using a medication.
  • Store medicines safely in a cool, dry place. Keep medicine away from children and pets. Dispose expired medications.
  • Ask questions.
  • Do not share your prescription medication.