Hesperian Health Guides

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How to Use Medicine Safely

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HealthWiki > Where Women Have No Doctor > Chapter 31: Use of Medicines in Women's Health > How to Use Medicine Safely


Any time you use a medicine, follow these guidelines:

  • Be sure it is necessary.
  • Get good instructions from the person who told you to take it. You should know:
- how much to take (the dose).
- how often to take it each day and for how many days.
  • Take the full amount. If you stop taking the medicine too soon, the problem may come back.
a woman putting medicine on a high shelf while two children play nearby
Keep all medicines in a cool, dry place or they may lose their usefulness before the expiration date. Make sure children cannot reach them. They can be deadly to a child.
  • Know the warning signs for any problems (side effects) the medicine can cause.
  • Know if the medicine reacts badly with particular foods and if you should take it on a full or empty stomach.
  • Avoid taking many medicines at the same time.Some medicines can stop other medicines from working. Some medicines can combine with other medicines to cause problems that neither would cause by itself.
  • Be careful when buying combination medicines (2 or more medicines in 1 tablet). Some combination medicines are necessary, but they usually cost more, and you may be putting medicine in your body that you do not need. For example, some eye drops and eye ointments contain both antibiotics and steroids. The steroids can be harmful. Combination medicines can also cause more side effects.
  • Make sure the package is labeled. If there is no label, ask the person to show you the bottle or box the medicine came in, and to write down the name and dose for you.


This page was updated:11 Sep 2017
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