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How to Take Painkiller Safely

Making sure your painkillers are safe begins from the moment your doctor writes you a prescription or you make a choice off the shelf in the drug store. It’s your responsibility to take these steps to keep yourself safe:

1) Be sure to read the labels and inserts when you purchase an over-the-counter pain reliever (like aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen) or a prescription drug. These materials will warn you about everything from drug interactions to food interactions to possible damage from extended use. Use a magnifying glass to read them if necessary. If a painkiller you have been prescribed is new to the market, you should learn about the important steps to consider before you take a new drug.
2) Remind your doctor about your other medications. If your doctor writes you a prescription, speak up about the other drugs and supplements you already take. Don’t rely on your medical records because the information may be incomplete or your doctor could miss it.
3) Ask the prescriber lots of questions. You’ll find a master list of general prescription questions here. Some of them are specific to pain-killing drugs. It’s important to ask things like: Is it OK to drive on this drug? Can I consume alcohol while I’m taking this drug? And what steps can I take to avoid becoming dependent on or addicted to this drug?
4) Find out which side effects are concerning. Once you begin taking the drug, you may experience side effects. Ask your doctor which side effects he wants to be informed about immediately.5 Vomiting profusely should probably be reported right away, for example, while dry mouth might be something you just have to live with. Be extra vigilant about side effects if you have not taken painkillers before because your body won’t be used to them.
5) Follow the directions for taking the drug exactly as prescribed. If you find your pain breaks through before it’s time for the next dose, don’t just go ahead and take it early. Instead, contact your doctor’s office and ask what you should do. They may adjust the dose accordingly.
6) Never just stop taking a painkilling drug on your own. Withdrawal is a nasty process and there are different ways to step down your dosage to make it easier on your body. If you feel it’s time to give up your painkiller, speak to your doctor and ask about the best way to wean yourself off the drug.

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