472 Common Medicines
How to Use
Keep all medicines in
a cool, dry place or
they may lose their
the expiration date.
Make sure children
cannot reach them.
They can be deadly
to a child.
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.
• Know the warning signs for any problems (side effects) the
medicine can cause (see page 478).
• 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.
Avoid medicines that are too old
It is best to use a medicine before its expiration date. This date is written in
small print on the package or bottle. For example: If you see ‘exp. 10/29/12’ or ‘exp.
29/10/12’ or ‘exp. Oct. 29, 2012’, this means the medicine should be used before the
29th day of October, 2012. Sometimes expired medicine is better than no medicine.
But do not use expired medicines if they are:
• pills that are starting to fall apart or change color.
• capsules that are stuck together or have changed shape.
• clear liquids that are cloudy or have anything floating in them.
• eye drops.
• medicines that require mixing. If the powder looks old or caked, or if the
medicine does not pour evenly after shaking, do not use it. (These must be used
soon after they are mixed.)
IMPORTANT Do not use doxycycline or tetracycline after the expiration date has
passed. They may be harmful.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012