CHARLESTON — Everyone can be a victim of poisonings, even the most experienced members of the community.
Seniors can still get bitten by snakes or spiders, accidently misuse cleaning supplies, or swallow something they shouldn’t. Not to mention that as a person gets older, the chances of that person taking a larger amount of medications increases.
According to Dr. Elizabeth Scharman, Director of the West Virginia Poison Center (WVPC), research continues to show that, as the number of medications a person takes increases, the chances of an adverse drug reaction, a drug interaction, or a mistake in taking one’s medication also increases.
However, if a problem with medication were to occur, the WVPC is able to help. Poison Specialists at the WVPC are available to answer any questions regarding dosing errors, adverse drug reactions and more.
Carissa McBurney, WVPC Community Outreach Coordinator, emailed the following tips to the Daily News to prevent medication mishaps:
• Keep an up-to-date list of all medications taken and what they are being taken for. This list should include prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, AND herbal supplements. All of these products count.
• Share this up-to-date medication list at every doctor, dentist, or pharmacy visit. This will help ensure that there are no drug interactions.
• If given a new prescription, always ask if this replaces a medication or should be taken in addition to current medications.
• Ask the pharmacist if there are any food interactions with the medication. Some foods, like grapefruit or grapefruit juice, can make some medications less likely to work or more likely to cause harmful drug reactions.
• Keep all original medication containers even if a pill minder or other pill storage device is used. The original container includes specific dosing instructions, drug name, and drug description which are important pieces of information to be able to refer back to.
• Always read the medication label prior to taking the medication to avoid mistaking medications or taking too much of a medication. If pill storage boxes are used, a typed instruction chart can be placed next to where the box is stored.
• Never take more medication than what is prescribed. Call your physician for recommendations if you believe that the medication is not working well enough for you.
• Track medications using a check-off list or medication journal. This helps prevent taking extra doses by accident.
• Dispose of all medications that are no longer needed, such as expired medications and prescriptions that have been discontinued.
• Never take someone else’s medication. In addition to being illegal, it can result in serious harm, including death.
To contact the WVPC, call 1-800-222-1222 or visit www.wvpoisoncenter.org.