Proper Care and Storage of Prescription Drugs and Medication
By: Rex Bowden
To maintain potency of all prescription medications, it is essential to store them properly. Some medications require refrigeration, while others must not be exposed to light and air. For households with children, it is vital to store medication in a locked container or in a spot that is inaccessible to them. Prescription medications taken on a daily basis should be neatly organized to avoid missing a dosage. It's also important to dispose of all drugs responsibly after the expiration date or when no longer needed.
General Medication Storage
When storing all prescription medications, keep in mind that many drugs will lose potency if exposed to the air, thus making the medication less effective. While many individuals choose to store their medications in prescription bottles, other options may be preferable. Many pharmacies sell airtight pill boxes that are easy to manipulate for some elderly or arthritic patients. Some medication containers come with labels that can be dated and marked for easy identification.
It is equally important to store medications in an appropriate environment, as heat and humidity can also effect the potency. Storing most prescription medications at room temperature is best, unless otherwise indicated by a physician or pharmacist. Keeping prescription drugs stored at high temperature increases the possibility of the chemical properties being altered. A chemical metamorphosis can produce serious side effects for the user. For safety precautions, it's best to store prescription drugs away from steam, humidity or any conditions exceeding 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
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Storing Medication in Homes with Children
Although the elderly or arthritic patients find it convenient to store prescription medications in an easy- to-open bottle, this is not the ideal solution for homes with small children. Many young children mistake prescription pills for candy, often with tragic results. It is vital to keep all prescription medications out of the reach of a youngster's curious hands. The best way to do so is by storing prescription drugs in a child proof container, making it extremely difficult for young hands to open. For extra security, it is best to store the medication on a high shelf or inside of a locked drawer. One should never leave drugs loose or unattended on a table where a child can find them.
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Daily Medication Organization and Storage
Patients who take medication on a daily basis may find it convenient to organize and identify medications. An easy way to manage prescription medications is to label each one individually. Separating all medications in airtight containers marked with each day of the week can help. Alternatively, one can purchase a pill box labeled for every day of the week. It's crucial to store pill boxes out of the reach of children and pets.
To remember to take daily medications, some individuals prefer to use a digital voice recorder or recorded message with alarm. As a helpful reminder to take the next dose, a designated time should be set to activate the recorded message. Post-it notes can also be a good reminder of when to take medications.
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Properly Disposing of Medication
When it's time to discard unused or expired prescription drugs, it's important to do so responsibly. Unused prescription medications should never be transferred to another individual for use. Tossing unused medication in the trash can result in tragic consequences as well. To avoid the possibility of toxicity to children or pets, drugs and medications should never be placed in a trash receptacle, even when sealed in a container.
To ensure safe disposal, some capsules, tablets and powders can be flushed down the toilet. It's best to read the disposal instructions for each medication, or ask a pharmacist if in doubt. Recycling programs for unused and expired drugs offer an environmentally-friendly method of disposal.
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