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Over the Counter & Through the Woods | Medication Month

by Nurse Jamie Daniel

May is Medication month! Over the next couple of weeks, Nurse Jamie is going to provide us with some info, some stories, and some practical tips on medication and assisting with medications for our clients. So stay tuned!

Read on for part one on over the counter medications.

Over the counter and through the woods to your pharmacist’s house we go?  I think I am mixing stories up?  Let’s just talk about over the counter medications for now…

Why do our clients need prescriptions for medications they could purchase over the counter (OTC)? Does the doctor really need to give them permission to take antacids or cough syrup? Well, they may be small, but medications are powerful. This is the very reason we use them. Every medication has an intended effect, but mixing medications can cause unwanted reactions. Certain blends can cause a medication to be less effective. Other mixtures could cause faster absorption with amplified effects and risk reaching toxic levels. For example, cholesterol-lowering drugs and some anti-fungal medications can affect the kidney function or even lead to kidney failure. Prescription pain medications and OTC medications with the same or similar ingredients can lead to possibly fatal overdoses. OTC decongestants can decrease the effectiveness of blood pressure medications. It could be a recipe for disaster!

We want to keep medical decisions in the hands of medical professionals. Often, a client is able to have the medication or another of a similar kind.

So what can you do?

Only administer medications that are specifically prescribed for your client. If a client has a cold or allergies and wants an OTC medication, call the doctor and request permission and a PRN prescription to be faxed into the Compass office. With any new medications, ask a pharmacist about possible medication interactions. Read the pharmacy pamphlets and observe your clients for any possible side effects. They have good information! For example, grapefruit juice can prevent certain medications from absorbing into the body. All in all, we want to be aware that the medications going into the client’s body are doing what they are supposed to- nothing more and nothing less.

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