College may be the first time you’re responsible for managing your health and medicines on your own. Here are 4 easy tips for using your medicines safely.
#1: Follow Directions
You hear it in your classes all the time, but following directions applies to your medicines too. Taking too much or too little of your medicine may make you sick. Be sure to use your medicines as directed – read the directions on the label and ask your healthcare provider how much you should take and when.
Use Medicines as Directed.
- Read the directions on the label and ask your healthcare provider how much you should take and when.
- Never skip taking your prescription medicine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you stop taking your medicines.
- Only take the suggested dose.
Avoid Common Problems.
- Don’t share medicines.
- Don’t use medicine in the dark where you can’t see what you are taking.
#2: Ask Questions
Your professors encourage you to ask questions about assignments, so why not ask your
healthcare provider about your medicines? Campus Health Pharmacy and Student Stores Pharmacy can explain the facts about every medicine you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and vitamins. They can tell you about any side effects or special warnings, and if there are any types of food you should avoid while taking the medicine.
Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to tell you the facts about each medicine you take.
- What is the name of the medicine?
- What is the active ingredient(s)?
- What is the medicine for?
- How much do I take and when should I take it?
- What does it look like?
- When does it expire?
- Are there any side effects or special warnings?
- What should I do if I start having side effects?
- Can I take it if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What other medicines or foods should I avoid?
#3: Do Not Use Expired Medicine
Just like that yogurt that’s been sitting in the back of your fridge, your medicines expire too. Check the box or the prescription label for the expiration date before taking any medicine, or dietary supplement. Expired medicines may not work or may make you sick. If you’re unsure of a medicine’s expiration, just ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist! They can help make sure all of your medicines are safe to take.
#4: Store Safely
It may be convenient to keep your medicines in plain sight to help remember to take them, but it’s important to store medicines safely. Put your medicines away after each use, and keep them out of sight. Medicines can cause harm if taken by the wrong person.
Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist how you should get rid of unused medicines. Find out if you should:
- flush it down the toilet or sink.
- put it in a sealed plastic bag with coffee grounds or kitty litter and throw it in the trash.
- drop it off at a drug take-back program in your community.
Be sure to scratch off your name and personal information before you put empty pill bottles in the trash.
Make sure that children can’t get to medicines including patches that you put in the trash.
If you are a UNC community member and have questions about your medication, call Campus Health Pharmacy at 919-966-6554.