The human body is quite extraordinary, but it’s far from perfect. As time goes by, we can begin to suffer from aches, pains, illnesses, and more, turning to the wonders of modern medicine to alleviate our symptoms and see us through these difficult moments.
Americans are estimated to spend around $1,200 on prescription drugs each and every year, and plenty more on over-the-counter medications too, and it’s not hard to understand why. Medications can help us fight off infections and feel a little better when illnesses strike.
Still, it’s important to take some time to think carefully about all the different pills and drugs we put into our bodies. Any form of medication available in stores or pharmacies has, of course, undergone rigorous testing, but plenty of pills and tablets still come with their fair share of risks.
The Importance of Reading the Label
Studies have found that many people don’t read medication labels. There might be a lot of different reasons behind this, from simply being too busy to wanting quick pain relief to not realizing the possible risks that can come along with taking new pills and medicines for the first time.
However, countless experts all agree that consumers should always be checking the labels on their drugs and make sure to read all the information thoroughly before taking them. Here are just a few reasons why this matters so much:
Correct Drug –
The most obvious reason to read the label is to ensure that you’re actually taking the right drug for whatever problem you’re experiencing. This might seem obvious, and it might sound impossible to get confused between different drugs, but many medication errors involve people accidentally taking the wrong pills. A lot of bottles and packets can look the same, especially when placed side by side in a medicine cabinet, so be sure to check.
Correct Dosage –
The label of your drugs also provides key information on the correct dosage. It’s easy to sometimes forget how many pills you’re allowed to take at any given time, and people might sometimes misremember this information. Always check the label to see exactly how much of each drug you’re allowed to take at any one time. Don’t forget that taking too much of anything can be immensely dangerous for your health and is never recommended.
Additional Instructions –
Drug labels may also provide additional instructions regarding how and when a drug should be taken. They might inform you to take each pill before or after a meal, for instance, or to avoid certain activities after taking the drug due to potential risks and side effects. When you’re taking any kind of drug, it’s always important to know exactly how, when, and why it should be taken, so you have all the necessary information you need.
For Parents –
Moms and dads, in particular, need to be careful when it comes to reading drug labels for their little ones. Children put their lives in your hands, and it’s part of a parent or guardian’s responsibility to make sure that their kids don’t take any unnecessary risks. Be sure to read the label carefully before giving your children any kind of medication to check for possible allergies, undesirable ingredients, or age limits.
Active Ingredients –
Drug labels usually contain an ‘Active Ingredients’ section, informing you of the key ingredients that help the drug have its desired effect on the body. This might seem unimportant at first, but it’s actually one of the most vital pieces of information on the label. You need to be aware of each active ingredient and make sure you don’t take any other pills or drugs containing the same ingredient simultaneously, as this could lead to overdose risks.
Inactive Ingredients –
It’s important to take a look at the inactive ingredients section too. You might notice an ingredient in the list that you could be allergic too, and this is another key thing for parents to bear in mind when giving any drugs to their kids. In most cases, there’s nothing to worry about, but there have been high-profile incidences of drugs like Zantac leading to higher risks of cancer in patients.
Drug labels also usually have a ‘Warnings’ section that informs you of any possible risks a patient may face by taking the pill incorrectly. This section might inform you, for example, of how a certain active ingredient could damage one of your organs if taken in excess or in combination with other medications. It might also mention that drugs could cause allergic reactions or should not be taken in conjunction with alcohol, allowing you to make the right choice.
Side Effects –
Another of the main reasons why you should always check the labels of any drugs you take is to make you aware of possible side effects. All kinds of drugs can come with side effects, from pain relief pills to allergy medicines, and more. Side effects can vary in severity too, from headaches and nausea to drowsiness and fatigue, which could make it dangerous for you to get behind the wheel of your car or operate machinery at work.
Key Facts –
The classic Drug Facts label that has been present on most OTC drugs since 2002 also includes bullet point facts about each drug. These bullet points might tell you whether or not you can take the drug if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding when to stop use when you might want to consult a doctor, and so on. All of this information can be highly valuable.
Overall, it’s clear to see that reading the label is always a good idea and something you should do every single time. Each label contains a lot of information, and while it might seem tedious or dull to read through all those medical terms and long-name ingredients, it could help to prevent serious issues like allergic reactions or overdoses later on.