Medicine labels that are printed on the back of bottles are chock full of information to help you get well. Often, however, many labels are confusing, the print is too small and cramped together, making their full comprehension difficult, especially for seniors.
Here are some tips on how to read and understand medicine labels.
Medicine: Active Ingredients
This information is printed at the top of the label. It is the main ingredient that treats your symptom, and defines the type of medicine–like ‘antihistamine’ or ‘pain reliever’. It also gives you the safe dosage. Make sure you don’t take other drugs with the same ingredient.
This section gives you a snapshot of the symptoms or diseases that the drug can treat. Always check this part when you buy a new drug to make sure it will do what you need it to do.
This is one of the most important parts of the drug label, and it’s usually the largest. It gives you safety details. You’ll find four things here: who shouldn’t take the drug, when you should stop using it, when to call your doctor, and side effects you might have. It can help you check if it’s not safe to take with some health conditions or other medications.
Read this part very carefully. Make sure you understand it; if not, call your doctor immediately.
It tells you how much of the drug to take and how often to take it. This is called the dosage. For example, it may say to take two tablets every 4 to 6 hours. Never take more than the label says without talking to your doctor. The directions are grouped by age, so you know how much you or your child can use. You’ll also get details about the maximum amount you should take in 1 day.
Medicine: Other Information
Be aware that heat and humidity can sometimes damage medications. Therefore, keep them in a cool, dry place. The label will tell you the right temperature range for storing the product. It also reminds you to make sure the package’s safety seal hasn’t been broken before you use it, which could be a sign of tampering.
If the bottle has been tampered with, notify the store immediately, and get a new bottle.
These are the ingredients in a drug such as preservatives, dyes, or flavorings. Always check this section if you or your child has food or dye allergies. Keep in mind that different brands of the same kind of drug may have different inactive ingredients.