You may think taking the wrong prescription medicine is just a stale joke that is fodder for standup comedians or slapstick scenes for Hollywood movies.
Think again. Simply reaching for the wrong medication and swallowing the wrong pills puts you at serious risk of having an allergic reaction or even death.
Moreover, if taking the wrong medicine wasn’t risky enough, taking a combination of medicines can provoke negative reactions as well. If you aren’t allergic to just one medicine, creating a pharmaceutical cocktail out of two or more medicines taken at the same time can cause a new set of responses. Furthermore, people take over the counter medications for many reasons that go beyond the reasons that underlie a doctor writing a script. Some men, for example, take the hormone supplement HGH to help with healing after an accident. It may not be prescribed by your doctor, but in your medicine cabinet, you should still know exactly what it is that you are popping into your mouth.
That’s why the experts at LowestMed advise families to periodically do an inventory of what pills are in their home, using a pill finder if you must to positively identify each and every capsule. How many pill bottles do you open to find that you are storing two or more different types of medicine in the same container? Do you know which is which? Are you sure – double sure?
Of course, there are always mistakes that cross the line from legal incidents to illegal incidents, such as sales of FDA approved legal drugs to others (by people who are not doctors) and overdoses of prescribed medications – some of which are very addicting. Then there’s the case of Gregory Mitchell of Macon, Ga., who was attempting to buy a safe and legal, prescription drug from an illegal source, but ended up taking a painkiller comprised, in part, of the deadly drug Fentanyl. Mitchell thought he was buying – and taking the painkiller Percocet, but the allergic reaction from Fentanyl killed him before he even reached the hospital, said his horrified family members.
One of the more often-cited numbers in recent years are the startling statistics on how many drugs are prescribed and taken each year in the normal course of our modern lives. In 2016, there were over 4 billion prescriptions filled by retail pharmacies that each year in the United States, with California and Texas leading the way with over 300 million each.
A harder to discern number is how many half-full bottles of pills there might be in the average U.S. bathroom medicine cabinet. Isn’t it odd they even call that cubical above the sink a “medicine cabinet.” It tells you that the average home is built with the anticipation that pills will be part of the homeowner’s lifestyle.
This might be listed as one of the causes of death in America: Confusion. At least some type of confusion killed Gregory Mitchell, who was mistaken about what kind of pill he was taking. How many labels on how many bottles are faded, worn off or vandalized in the course of using the pill bottle time and again?
Is it safe to keep expired prescriptions in your home? There are certain pills that keep well, while others lose their effectiveness, but one reason to safely dispose of old pills is that your doctor should have an idea of what you are taking so that no two pills combine to create an adverse reaction. Doctors frequently review the list of prescriptions their patients are taking not because they like to play scolding parent, but because they want to review what drugs may be interacting with others. Suddenly adding a pill to your body – even an aspirin – without first checking with your physician could be deadly.
Yes, even the most benign drugs can be deadly. According to the Allergist, some of the most common drugs that trigger allergic reactions are penicillin, anticonvulsants, aspirin, ibuprofen and chemotherapy drugs – all of which are commonly prescribed or purchased.
Drugs should always be locked up – away from curious children or friends who might be secretly pawing through your medicine cabinet when you aren’t looking. Addictions are nondiscriminatory. People from every socio-economic strata are susceptible to addictions. You should always know where your meds are coming from, what they look like, and what you have in your medicine cabinet.