Epilepsy Talk

7 Myths About Medication — and the Facts Behind Them | August 11, 2019

From The Cleveland Clinic: By Family Health Team

Misconceptions about medicine are as common as pills on a pharmacy shelf.

We could all use a healthy dose of the truth.

Cleveland Clinic drug information pharmacist Katie Stabi, PharmD, BCPS, debunks seven of the most common myths about medications below:

Myth 1: Forget what the label says — if you’re really hurting, take more pills.

Fact: When you’re in severe pain, you may look at the dose on the pain reliever bottle and think, “This can’t possibly help!” The truth is, yes, it can.

The dose listed on the label of an OTC or prescription drug isn’t just a suggestion — it’s a careful calculation. Pharmaceutical companies work hard to develop the appropriate dose of each and every medicine.

Taking more than the listed dose can rob you of the benefits of the medicine and may leave you feeling worse, not better.

Pay attention, too, to the way in which pills should be taken.

Pills meant to be swallowed should not be chewed, and vice versa. If you have trouble swallowing pills, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about alternatives.

Myth 2: Once you feel better, put the medicine away.

Fact: If your symptoms are gone but you still have a week left on your medication, you may be tempted to stop taking those pesky pills.

However, just like the amount of medicine you need is a well-measured decision, so is the length of time you need to take it.

Stopping your medication early can increase your chance of relapsing into illness.

If you’re considering quitting your meds because you can’t afford more, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Your doctor prescribed that medicine because you need it. There are many ways to reduce the costs of medications to make them more affordable.

Myth 3: Natural supplements are a safer choice (Sorry, I disagree with this, to a point.)

Fact: Natural supplements may seem safer and healthier than OTC drugs.

But unlike OTC drugs, supplements are regulated as foods and not as drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This means their effectiveness does not have to be proven before they are marketed, and manufacturers don’t have to share safety information.

Standards for supplements are not as strict, and the amount of each ingredient may be inconsistent between products. Potential side-effects may not be mentioned on the label.

Also, some medications don’t work as well with certain supplements. If you’re interested in natural supplements, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which ones are safe to use.

Myth 4: Antibiotics are always the answer.

Fact: When you or a loved one are sick, you want to get better fast — but you also want the cure to last.

Most people assume that antibiotics are the fastest route to recovery. But antibiotics are only helpful in illnesses caused by bacteria, such as strep throat.

Most illnesses, like colds and sore throats, are caused by viruses that don’t respond at all to antibiotics.

Even though you’re feeling miserable, OTC medications will usually relieve your symptoms until the virus is gone.

Check with your doctor or pharmacist about which ones are safe to take. If you have hypertension, for example, Sudafed® (pseudoephedrine) can elevate your blood pressure.

If you’re not feeling a lot better in 10 to 14 days, call your doctor. You may have developed a secondary bacterial infection — and that’s when antibiotics will help you.

Doctors don’t want to prescribe antibiotics when they aren’t needed because overusing them may lead to more resistant, hard-to-treat infections.

Myth 5: Your doctor doesn’t need to know which vitamins you take.

Fact: When prescribing a medicine or suggesting an OTC remedy, your doctor needs to know which other medications you’re taking.

You might not think to include vitamins or supplements on that list. However, it is important that your doctor knows everything you take, including vitamins and supplements.

This is so the medicine won’t interact with them in a dangerous way.

Some medications, vitamins or supplements can hinder the way your body absorbs, breaks down and eliminates medicine.

When in doubt, don’t leave any vitamins or supplements out; tell your doctor about all of them.

Myth 6: Store your meds where you won’t forget them — on the bathroom sink.

Fact: Remembering to take your medication every day can be difficult. 

Putting them where you’ll see them every day may seem like a good idea.

However, storing meds by your bathroom or kitchen sink exposes them to dampness and light, both of which can damage them.

Unless you are told otherwise, store medication in a dry area, away from heat and direct light.

It’s also important to store them in their original container or a pill-box that can’t be opened by little hands. Always keep meds out of reach for children.

Myth 7: You can swallow your pills with a sip of any drink.

Fact: Remember to always take pills with water. However, don’t throw back a pill with a quick gulp of water.

Swallow enough water to keep pills from dissolving before they reach your stomach or they may irritate your throat.

Also, make sure you know whether to take your meds on a full versus an empty stomach. Following instructions will ensure that your medicine can do its job.

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  1. Hey Philis, another good post.

    Interestingly on Myth 1, my doc gave me a proscription for ibuprofin at 600mg, yet the stores only sell them in 200mg. Sometimes more is better.

    In order not to forget to take my meds i use one of those weekly dispensers where u put ur meds for a week into. Even then i still sometimes forget. Ugh!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Zolt — August 11, 2019 @ 2:24 PM

  2. I have the same set-up for my meds, but sometimes I need an alarm to remind me.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 11, 2019 @ 2:26 PM

    • Oh Yes Phylis,,, After coming up with memory difficulties, setting up my IPhone alarm clock to the times of taking medication became more precise than my memory/brain, therefore helped me to resolve the problem with missing a doss.
      Thanks God for the technology. 😄!

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by BahreNegash Eritrea — August 11, 2019 @ 6:57 PM

  3. I have my phone alarm set up for a rooster alarm at noon and midnight. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Donna Jones — August 12, 2019 @ 12:51 AM

  4. A rooster alarm. Now that’s sure to waken you up.

    How clever! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 12, 2019 @ 9:47 AM

  5. I disagree with Myth 3 too, but mostly because I have better experience with a whole food supplement or natural supplement for most things. I get supplements “prescribed” to me though majority via my Functional Medicine aunt, but I take a natural supplement for my headaches prescribed by my Epileptologist too. I don’t get side effects from them like I do from prescription medications. Sometimes I try prescription drugs the doctors think I should try first. I don’t buy many natural products OTC, not because they aren’t regulated, but most of them are still synthetic Vitamins, not “the real deal” like in the whole food supplements(which are actual foods or plants you can use).

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by trekkie80sgirl — August 12, 2019 @ 11:54 AM

    • “Natural” is often a joke. If these meds are not bio available, they’re useless.

      Lucky you have an aunt who understands and that you’re so pro-active.

      I wish we all had an auntie like yours! 🙂


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 12, 2019 @ 11:59 AM

  6. Not taking meds with coffee??? Gonna be a hard habit to break. I ALWAYS take my morning dose with coffee…have done this for years! Water is for my evening dose (sometimes a Diet A&W root beer).

    As for reminders to take medication as well as confirmation that I did take medication, I too use one of those weekly type dispensers. Mine consists of 7 separate dispensers in a larger box that holds them all (for travel maybe?). What I like about the separate dispensers is, if I am away from home for a long day, I can simply put one day’s worth of meds & vitamins in my purse. It’s very convenient.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by ellen — August 19, 2019 @ 9:25 AM

    • I have to admit that I drink coffee too. But not to take my pills. It’s a full glass of water, all the way.

      Technically, caffeine stimulates the nervous system. Adrenaline is released and the liver begins to emit stored blood sugar. Insulin is then released, and blood sugar drops below normal—a common seizure trigger. And caffeine can be a “stealth” drug, too. It can be found as an ingredient in medications, including some antihistamines and decongestants.

      That being said, I also use the weekly dispensers, too. Handy for every day and, like you said, travel.

      I keep them by my toothbrush, so I can remember. But sometimes I use the alarm on my cell phone to remind me, if it’s getting too late.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 19, 2019 @ 11:02 AM

  7. I’m frustrated with ALL drug makers who make neurological drugs. All drugs really are getting too toxic to take what you need WITHOUT LEARNING 1st what is in that drug that you are suppose to take. The AED VIMPAT is a clear example of what I mean, There are 4 MG strengths that is made, 50, 100, 150 & 200 MG tablets The safest to take is the 100 & then with a ? mark I take the 150MG tablet IF I need to take it & I do need it now. The 50 MG & 200MG tablets both have other toxins in them along with ” ALMUMINUM LAKE”” So is THAT suppose to help us remember better so we do not forget to take our drugs ? NO WAY should any AED / ASD tablet or capsule have ALUMINUM IN IT & expect seizure control & memory to be better for taking it. MAGNESIUM STEARATE is another TOXIN to make more seizure activity to happen. I learned that THE HARD WAY for 26 years, & I KNEW what was happening but NOBODY PAID ATTENTION to all i was saying from age 5 to age 32, when I finally was allowed to go OFF DILANTIN because my doctor then said,, “”” Taking too much Dilantin over a LONG PERIOD OF TIME WILL DAMAGE THE BONE MARROW.”’. So I said YES to go off DILANTIN & see if I needed other AED’s later, & I started instantly having NO petit mal seizures. BUT 6 months later my 3rd GRAND MAL happened & i was put back on PHENOBARBITAL & it worked okay as an adult drug for me until 1995 when my 4th GRAND MAL happened. Life been good since, but I NEVER will understand HOW & WHY drug makers just can not make good drugs at ALL MG types without 1 being so different from another MG tablet or capsule, So if I find 1 GOOD DRUG STRENGTH that is SAFE with the least side effects, I’ll take whatever the amount I need, as I have seen & found where ALL XR TIMED RELEASE DRUGS have more side effect toxins in them that those that are NOT XR drugs. I can REMEMBER TO TAKE GOOD DRUGS, & not take those bad ones that may make more seizures & STRESS in your life to happen. That is what they the drug makers want. Not me or ANYONE ELSE need to live with their Russian Roulette games with taking UNSAFE & BAD drugs. .

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by James D — April 28, 2021 @ 3:31 PM

    • After 20 years of taking 300mg of Dilantin twice a day to control my grand mal seizures, my new primary doctor comes out of the blue & tells me the “DILANTIN TOXIC LEVEL IN YOUR BLOOD IS TOO HIGH”.
      I was caught by total surprise & didn’t know what to say, except asking the Doctor how did all the hospital visits, medical exams & blood tests failed to notice the TOXIC LEVEL of my medications in my blood all these years, while they were raising the dosage & adding 1000mg/day of Keppra to control my grand mal seizures?
      While the unexpected shocking news totally caught me by total surprise, all of a sudden I’m wondering what the “HIGH TOXIC LEVEL OF MY MEDICATIONS” meant to my liver, kidney, blood pressure,,,, beyond the side effects of my medications already posted on my prescription bottles.
      After going through difficult times to control my grand mal seizures for all these years, it feels like I’m going through another revolving door to figure out how to cure the fatal consequences of the prescription drugs meant to stop my grand mal seizures, potentially leading to Diabetes I never had before.
      One wonders, if avoiding the seizure medications were better off than having to pay fatal medical consequences in the name of controlling Epileptic seizures.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Gerrie — April 29, 2021 @ 12:38 AM

      • Gerrie, where have you been? I’ve been so worried, I even feared for the worst and emailed you.

        Dilantin toxicity happened to me at an early stage, so I was one of the lucky (?) ones.

        Diabetes is a horrid consequence, more like a punishment instead.

        As far as avoiding AEDs, the jury’s out on that one. (Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know?)

        This article may be of interest to you…

        The Perils of Discontinuing Your Meds https://epilepsytalk.com/2021/02/21/the-perils-of-discontinuing-your-meds-2/


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 29, 2021 @ 9:33 AM

  8. James, Russian Roulette is a good way to put it. One big crap shoot. And we’re the dice.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 28, 2021 @ 3:55 PM

    • Hello Phyllis,,, Thank you for your concern & checking to find out on how I’ve been doing.
      I’m sorry I did not get to reply to your email for I have NOT been connected to the internet for a while now.
      But considering the odds & adversities that I’ve been encountering for a while, I can only be grateful that I’m still around, taking life easy day by day.
      It’s great to be back to see you on EpilepsyTalk, carrying out the same inspiring mission you had been sharing & providing for many of us who needed your experience & wisdom to carry on with our lives & the medical hardships we have to live with.
      Thank you for your latest reply to my intriguing question, for I needed to know the complicated chemistry & potential fallout behind Epilepsy & AEDs.
      Wishing you all the best.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Gerrie — April 29, 2021 @ 11:15 PM

  9. Gerrie, I’m so sorry for what took you away. No doubt it was pretty terrible, because you’re such a resilient person. But I’m thrilled and grateful that you’re back.

    You are the core and inspiration for Epilepsy Talk. ❤


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 30, 2021 @ 9:06 AM

    • Thank you very much, Phylis.
      I’ve learned a whole lot from you & all members of EpilepsyTalk on how to cope with my Epileptic seizures & related hardships than from the hospital industry I was made to believe they got all the answers to all of my medical difficulties.
      Therefore, I appreciate your commitment & selfless hard work in helping me to better understand the mistry behind Epilepsy & related hardships to carry on with my life.
      I’m pleased to comeback here to share the struggle & treasure the blessing of overcoming the odds.
      Keep up the great job. 👍!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Gerrie — May 1, 2021 @ 6:23 AM

  10. You are greater than all odds combined.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 1, 2021 @ 9:15 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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