Do you know? ...
You may be on some prescription or over-the-counter medicines for a while now, or are taking care of someone who is. Have you ever noticed that almost every medication comes with labels? These labels come with important information about the medications for the following purposes:
To maximise the therapeutic efficacy of the medication, i.e. get the ‘best buck’ out of the medication
To ensure the medication works properly. Improper way of taking/administering the medications may affect its efficacy.
To avoid side effects that are caused by the medications, which may result in unpleasant experience or even jeopardise your health or safety.
Here we lay out a few most commonly seen medication labels!
Examples: Certain medications for cold and cough, medications for motion sickness
Antihistamines is a group of medications commonly used for cold, cough and motion sickness. They may cause drowsiness or sleepiness in some people. When taking these medications, one should not drink alcohol or take sleeping pills since they may worsen the drowsiness.
On a side note, not all antihistamines are created equally, and some may be less drowsy than the others. For instance, a newer generation antihistamine called loratadine (Clarityne®) causes less drowsiness than chlorpheniramine (Piriton®), which is an older type of antihistamine. Such a drowsiness property can actually be used in the patient’s advantage: if you tend to suffer bad allergies at night that disrupt your sleep, or you need a motion sickness pill that lets you sleep through the journey, the drowsy kind of antihistamines would be more useful. Otherwise, there are also non-drowsy medications for cold and cough. Consult your healthcare professional to pick a medication that is best suited to your personal circumstances.
Examples: Tetracycline antibiotics (e.g. doxycycline), digoxin (a medication for heart disorder)
The calcium in milk and antacids, as well as iron itself can affect the absorption of the medications mentioned above if you take both together. Instead, you can take milk or iron supplements 2 hours before or after taking your medications.
Examples: controlled-release medications, i.e. medications made specially to release the medicines slowly in the body.
These medications are usually taken once or twice a day. Controlled- or sustained-release medications are designed to give convenience to the patients and improve their adherence to the treatment. Because such medications are made with a kind of special coat that releases the active ingredient at a slower rate, they should not be cut, crushed or chewed. It would destroy the coat and release the active ingredient at one-go, which negates the slow release and long duration of therapeutic effect. Some controlled-release medications, however, can be crushed before taking. Consult your pharmacist for further information.
If a doctor prescribed you antibiotics, it is important that you complete the full course of the medication, i.e. finish all antibiotics according to the doctor’s instruction. This is to ensure your infection resolves completely and to prevent antimicrobial resistance. You can read more about antimicrobial resistance in our article here.
Examples: eye drops, sublingual glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) tablets (to be put under the tongue when experiencing chest pain)
Medications which are exposed to air and light will deteriorate with time. Beyond a certain period, the effectiveness of the medication is lost. Medications such as eye drops must be discarded after opening for a certain period (consult your pharmacist the exact period for your eye drops). For GTN tablets, the tablets should be discarded 8 weeks after opening.
Examples: Unopened insulin cartridge (for diabetes), unopened erythropoietin injections (for anemia/”increase blood” in kidney disease patients)
Excessive light and extreme temperature will destroy medications, especially those that are made of proteins (e.g. insulin and erythropoietin). After receiving these medication supplies from the pharmacy, keep the unopened medications in the refrigerator, away from uncooked food. Take note that you should not keep them in the fridge, because extremely low temperatures can destroy the medication as well. Whereas after opening them or when they are in use, they can be kept at room temperature for a certain period of time only. For instance, most opened insulin cartridges can last up to 30 days, whereas it’s 3 days for Recormon® (the erythropoietin). Consult your pharmacist about the details of storage.
If you have any questions related to medication labels, you can consult our professional doctors and pharmacists on DOC2US. DOC2US is a mobile application that allows you to talk to a doctor or any healthcare professionals via text chat at any time and from anywhere. For better communication, you can even send our online doctor images or voice messages related to your medical inquiry.
Download DOC2US app on Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Huawei App Gallery; or use our web chat at https://web.doc2us.com/
Note: DOC2US is not for medical emergencies. In the event of urgent medical conditions, please call 999.
Disclaimer: As a service to our users and general public, DOC2US provides health education contents. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
MIMS Pharmacy - Patient Counselling Guide 2020/2021
Do you know? ...
It's World Diabetes Day! 1...
Yes! Diabetes can affect o...
Diabetes is a growing concern ...
Whether a pregnancy test t...
A toddler blinking hard or fas...
Introducing DOC2US, Your Trusted Online Doctor. With its name synonymous to “talk to us”, DOC2US is a mobile application that allows you to talk to a doctor or any healthcare professionals via text chat at any time and from anywhere.