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Family Health

Medication Safety: 5 Prescriptions You Should be Extra Careful With

Almost 50 percent of Americans have taken at least one prescription medication in the past month. Medications help us eliminate deadly diseases, relieve pain and suffering, and increase quality of life — but with so many drugs on the market, medication safety is more important than ever. To help keep yourself as safe as possible, here are five types of prescription medications you should be extra careful with.

1. Benzodiazepines

This class of drugs includes medications like alprazolam, diazepam, and lorazepam. You might be prescribed a benzodiazepine if you've struggled with certain anxiety or panic disorders. But these medications can cause serious side effects, like difficulty breathing — especially if you mix them with alcohol or other prescription pain medications. Also, some benzodiazepines are known to cause birth defects and even increased pressure inside the eyes.

2. Antipsychotics

Medications in this class of drugs, like quetiapine, aripiprazole, and olanzapine, are prescribed to help manage certain mental health conditions that cause symptoms like hallucinations. If you're prescribed an antipsychotic, let your doctor know immediately if you start to have thoughts of suicide or self-harm. These types of drugs can also raise your blood sugar levels, even if you don't have diabetes. Regular checkups with your doctor are important for ensuring that you're staying as healthy as possible.

3. Sedatives

A good night's sleep is essential to staying healthy, but many people have trouble falling and staying asleep. If you need help sleeping, your doctor may prescribe a sedative, like zoldipem or eszopiclone. But these drugs are usually only meant to be used for a short period of time as they can be habit-forming. It's possible to have withdrawal symptoms, like nausea, nervousness, or muscle cramps, if you suddenly stop taking your sedative. In some cases, these medications can cause seizures.

4. Muscle Relaxers

Muscle relaxers, like carisoprodol and methocarbamol, are usually prescribed alongside pain medications to help stop pain caused by muscle spasms or injuries. But it's important to avoid alcohol and certain other drugs, like sedatives, because they can make you more tired than usual. In some cases, patients with pre-existing kidney or liver disease have reported severe side effects after taking muscle relaxers.

5. Antibiotics

Almost everyone will be prescribed an antibiotic at some point in their lives. Certain antibiotics, like ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin, have been shown to increase your risk of tendinitis, tendon rupture, or even nerve damage. It's important to take these medications exactly as prescribed, and you should avoid certain foods, like some dairy products, if you're going to be taking them.

Medication safety is important, but it's easy to stay safe as long as you stay informed. Knowing what you should watch out for can help lower your risk of complications. If you have questions or concerns, the best thing you can do it talk with your doctor. He or she can address any problems you may have and answer any questions before you begin taking your medication.

Posted in Family Health

Sarah began writing professionally in 2016 as a way to use her medical knowledge beyond the bedside. Before hanging out her shingle, she worked as a registered nurse in multiple specialties, including pharmaceuticals, operating room/surgery, endocrinology, and family practice. With over nine years of clinical practice experience, her unique insights into the healthcare industry help her craft compelling content that targets healthcare consumers and clinicians. Sarah counts many well-known healthcare organizations and businesses among her freelance clients. When she's not writing, she enjoys yoga, scuba diving, and hiking with her husband.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.