May 10, 2007

Things to Watch Out for With Pain Medications

-- Prescription painkillers can interact with other medications, foods and nutritional supplements. Some anti-anxiety or sedative medicines can increase the toxicity of pain medicines. Some antidepressants and other drugs can interact with painkillers to depress your respiratory system. Make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows everything you're taking, and pay attention to their specific warnings.

-- Ask your doctor what you should do if you develop a respiratory illness while on prescription pain drugs.

-- Do not mix pain medications with alcohol, which can increase the toxicity of the medications.

-- Do not take pain medicine at higher doses or more often than prescribed. Even after the pain relief has worn off, the medicine may still be depressing your breathing -- sometimes for as much as 50 hours. You must develop a tolerance to the respiratory depressant effects before the dose can be increased.

-- Never take a prescription painkiller not prescribed for you.

-- Don't use narcotic medications to help you sleep.

-- Find out if it's safe to drive while on your medication. You can earn a DUI if you drive impaired on prescription medicines.

-- Keep your prescription pain medications locked up.

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