Script Your Future – Understanding OTC Medications

Script Your Future

Non-prescription (a.k.a. over-the-counter or OTC) medicines have become increasingly popular among Americans in recent years. In the past, OTC medications have been viewed as home remedies to treat aches, pains, and itching. What many people do not consider, however, is their ability to treat and even cure a variety of conditions. Some OTC products can prevent diseases like tooth decay, and even cure diseases like athlete’s foot. Along with a doctor and/or pharmacist’s guidance, some OTC products can be used to manage recurring conditions like yeast infections, migraines, and arthritis pain. It is important to fully discuss your plans on using OTC products with your doctor before trying a product on your own!

When a product is available to be purchased without doctor’s prescription, there are certain precautions you must take before selecting a product to fit your needs. As a whole, people are living longer, working longer, and becoming more active in their own healthcare, which means more people are becoming informed about the best self-care practices, including OTC use. The best way to ensure that you are purchasing a safe and effective product, is to read and understand the information on the OTC product label. Common terms found on OTC labels are defined below:

  • Active Ingredient(s) – the substance in the product which provides its therapeutic action
  • Inactive Ingredient(s) – substances like flavorings, binders, and colorings
  • Warnings – possible side effects; when not to use the product;  when to stop taking it; when to see a doctor
  • Purpose – the general category of the product (i.e. antacid, antihistamine, etc.)
  • Uses – the symptoms or disease the product is intended to treat/prevent
  • Directions – how to use the medication; what dose to take; how frequently to take it; and duration of treatment course

When it comes to medications, more does not always mean better. You should never misuse OTC medications by taking them longer or in higher doses than the label recommends. If you have any questions regarding how to use a product or how to read the label, do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist for help. If the symptoms you are trying to treat persist despite treatment, that is a clear signal to go see your doctor right away!

References: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/UnderstandingOver-the-CounterMedicines/Choosingtherightover-the-countermedicineOTCs/UCM150312.pdf

Script Your Future – Tips on Talking With Your Pharmacist About Using Medications Safely

Script Your FuturePharmacists are a valuable resource for patients when they have questions about their medications. Being the drug experts means that pharmacists are well-educated in both prescription and non-prescription medications. If you or someone you know have any questions about your medications and how to take them safely, contact your local pharmacist!

When speaking with your pharmacist regarding your medications, it is very important to give him/her any information about your health and current medications. Things to inform your pharmacist about include: any food or drug allergies, if you have any restrictions that could influence your ability to take medications (i.e. difficulty swallowing), a list of all your current medications and health conditions, and if you are pregnant or may become pregnant, etc.

When asking your pharmacist, or any other healthcare professional for that matter, a question regarding your care it can be helpful to write down a list of questions you want to ask them. Examples of questions to ask your pharmacist:

  1. What are the brand and generic names?
  2. What is this for, and how is it going to help me?
  3. How and when should I use it? How much do I use?
  4. How long should I use it? Can I stop using the medicine or use less if I feel better?
  5. What should I do if I miss a dose or use too much?
  6. When will the medicine start working? How should I expect to feel?

When talking with your pharmacist about your medications, be sure you write down any important information they tell you, take home and read any pamphlets of information provided to you, and make sure you have the pharmacy’s phone number in case you need to call back for further questions! Once you get home, there are additional steps you can take to ensure you are taking your medications safely and properly. Tips for safe medication use at-home include: double checking the label on the bottle to make sure you are taking the correct medication, using proper measuring devices (syringes, medication spoons, etc.) to get the correct dose, and following proper storage directions for the medication (refrigeration, away from light, etc.).

For more helpful tips on how to talk to your pharmacist and take your medications safely, visit www.fda.gov/usemedicinesafely

Script Your Future: Asthma & Medication Adherence

Script Your Future

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. It affects persons of all ages, but is more common in children. Some of the common signs/symptoms associated with asthma are wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath especially on exertion, and coughing. Although there is no cure for asthma, there are steps you can take to keep this condition under control!

The best way to manage your asthma is to take your medications properly. The most commonly used medications in the treatment of asthma are a combination of long-term and quick-relief (aka “rescue”) medications. Although these medications can be taken in a pill or tablet form, they are commonly administered through devices called inhalers and/or nebulizers. These long-term inhalers are used to deliver inhaled corticosteroids (e.g. albuterol) into the airways for the purpose of reducing airway inflammation and prevent symptoms from ever occurring. Short-acting or “rescue” medications are used to provide fast relief when symptoms do occur.

An Asthma Action Plan is a great tool to use in helping you manage your asthma appropriately. These worksheets help you keep track of your asthma symptoms and medications all in one convenient place. These plans describe your daily asthma care plan including what treatments to take and when. Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to guide you in filling out the action plan and keep you on the right track. For all chronic conditions, asthma included, it is critical to take all of your medications as they are prescribed by your doctor!

For tips on how to use an inhaler or find a sample Asthma Action Plan, visit www.scriptyourfuture.org!

UCSOP Flood Relief with the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association

IMG_5697

A cat at the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association receives respiratory treatment in a nebulizing chamber

In the wake of the recent floods, countless people around the Kanawha area have needed help and many have volunteered to assist with clean up and medical care. But a group that is often forgotten in crisis situations is pets. On June 29th, a group of UCSOP faculty and students including Dr. Sarah Embrey Dr. Cassie Legari, Dr. MIchelle Knight, Kendra Hall (Class of 2019), and UCSOP interns Killian Rodgers and Dawnna Metcalfe went to the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association to help out in this time of need.

 

IMG_5695

Intern Dawnna Metcalfe prepares a syringe to help cats with respiratory issues

The Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association (KCHA) operates a shelter and animal hospital just outside of Charleston near Yeager Airport. They have over 100 kennels for dogs and house many cats as well. In addition to providing shelter, food, and medical care for pets in need, they work to fight animal cruelty in Kanawha county and help reduce the pet overpopulation issue through Trap-Neuter-Return programs. As a humane society, they try to save every animal they can and pair them up with a loving family to provide them a forever home.

Since the floods however, they have been inundated with new arrivals. Many are pets who are currently separated from their owners but many are also newly strayed and will need forever homes as well.

IMG_5691

A dog at KCHA awaits her dewormer

The team from UCSOP helped the veterinary staff at KCHA, led by University of Charleston Alumn, Dr. Jamie Totten, prepare medications, administer medications, and get a census of some of the dogs and cats. Many cats at KCHA were in need of respiratory care so Dr. Embrey and the UCSOP summer interns helped prepare dozens of syringes with necessary medications. In addition, the interns and a P2 student helped to deliver deworming medication to over 60 dogs.

Both the people and the pets at KCHA were very happy and grateful for the help, even the dogs that weren’t too happy about taking their medication. But there is still plenty more that needs to be done! Below are some links for how you can help out KCHA and the pets of Kanawha county:

If you are interested in adopting click here to find out about the process of providing a pet with their forever home.

If you are interested in volunteering or fostering an animal click here.

If you would like to donate money click here.

If you are in the area and would like to donate some supplies click here for a list of what they need most.

If you are a medical professional or work in a medical environment- the veterinary staff at KCHA are in desperate need of equipment like syringes, if you have any that you are willing to donate (expired equipment is OK) please click here for contact info on how to get that to the right people.

Contributed by: Killian Rodgers and Dawnna Mecalfe