I take great pride in telling others that I work for the Illinois Poison Center. Our call center team is always available to answer questions or resolve concerns about potential drug interactions. But there is another team of qualified individuals- your local pharmacists- who are able to help prevent medication errors.
As a mother and grandmother, former daycare director and teacher I was given the name “Dr. Mom”- a spin-off from an old television commercial when Mom knew just what over the counter (OTC) cure-all to buy for that sick family member. Times have changed and while I’d like to consider myself somewhat well-versed on what OTC product someone should take for the sniffles or cough, I have found that there are far too many ingredients in many of the OTC products that are potentially unsafe for younger children or for adults when they have prescription medications to take as well.
Medications can be lifesavers when used as directed to prevent or treat an illness, but they are powerful substances that can bring about serious consequences when used incorrectly or mixed with OTC products. And to top that off, I know many adults who wash it all down with some type of alcoholic beverage or highly caffeinated drink which can lead to a dangerous interaction of chemicals in the body. Unintentional overdoses can be prevented if users simply take a few extra minutes to discuss in detail what other prescriptions they are taking, as well as what OTC medications they are may or already use with their local pharmacist.
With the onset of what is supposed to be a year of high pollen, dust and mold, many people will be swarming the aisles in local stores looking at packages of antihistamines and decongestant medications to stop their sneezing, coughing, etc. Since these products are now available without a prescription but are still behind the counter at most retail pharmacies, it is a good time to ask your pharmacist if there could potentially be a problem because of other prescriptions you are taking. Warning messages on these packages exist for a reason. Each time you pick up your prescription they ask if you have questions; use that time to ASK! The knowledge that the pharmacist \ has to share can be priceless if not lifesaving.
I have experienced a prescription errors and a pharmacy filling that prescription without verification. I am thankful that my regular pharmacist, Aaron rechecked the order requested and called to tell me there would be a problem- a potentially life-threatening problem if I continued to take the medication. (Needless to say, I am now doing fine thanks to Aaron.)
I now take more time to ensure that the effects of the medication I will be taking will not be worse than what it is supposed to cure. Your pharmacist is your greatest ally when it comes to preventing adverse drug reactions. They can work with your doctors to adjust medications and dosages to help protect you from accidental overdoses or problematic drug interactions.
Never assume; know. Ask First and if your pharmacist is not available, we are. Just call. 1-800-222-1222 Prevention is always better than intervention.