Taking medicine is a part of life for many people. You may need to take medicine for pain or other ailments. If you have to take pain medicine a lot, look for other ways to reduce the pain. Some of these are talked about in the article Ways to Control Pain. If none of these ways works for you, talk to your HTC.
There are two reasons to tell your HTC all of the drugs you take. First, many drugs make it harder for your blood to clot. Second, drugs can react with each other and cause problems. Tell your center about drugs a doctor tells you to take as well as drugs, herbs, and vitamins you buy off the shelf. Call your HTC before you start taking any drug for the first time.
Medicines that affect platelets
People with bleeding disorders must talk to their doctor or nurse before taking medicine that can affect their platelets. If you click on the chemical name for the drugs in this section, you can see detailed information about the drug from the National Library of Medicine.
Some medicines that affect the way platelets work are:
- Aspirin (including brand names like Anacin®, Bufferin®, Ecotrin®, and Excedrin®)
- Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, Midol®, and generic forms)
- Naproxen (Aleve®, Naprosyn®, and generic forms)
- Other nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Most Alka-Seltzer® products, since they contain aspirin. Alka-Seltzer Gold® does not.
- Some antibiotics (drugs to treat infection)
- Birth control pills
- Dibucaine (often used in medicine for hemorrhoids)
- Halothane (used to put people to sleep before surgery)
- Some drugs used to treat mental problems (tricyclic antidepressants and phenothiazines)
- Some drugs given to women after menopause
The drug of greatest concern for people with bleeding disorders is aspirin. After platelets come in contact with aspirin in the bloodstream, they can no longer work properly. The affected platelets will be this way until the platelets die. So aspirin can affect your platelets’ ability to clot up to a week or more after you take it. Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) does not affect platelets.
Certain vitamins (such as vitamin E), omega-3/fish oil capsules, and herbs such as ginko can affect platelets. All vitamins and herbal medicines need to be discussed with your health care provider before taking them.
Advice on taking medicine
Here are some rules to follow when taking medicine. Some of these are just for people with bleeding disorders. Many of them are good for everyone.
Never take any medicine that has aspirin in it. Aspirin can bother your stomach and cause bleeding problems. Many of the drugs you buy off the shelf have aspirin in them. Be especially careful with drugs for colds and stomach problems. Ask the pharmacist if the drug has aspirin in it. The National Library of Medicine has a listing of drugs containing aspirin.
Don’t take herbal remedies that contain ginko. Gingko slows down the body's ability to make a clot.
Tell any doctor that you go to what drugs you are taking, including vitamins and herbs. The doctor can tell you about any bad side effects to watch out for. Some drugs that are fine by themselves can cause problems when taken with another drug. Your doctor will know about these. Take the medicine bottles with you so the doctor can read the label from the pharmacy.
Write down any medicine you take on your treatment calendar. This record will help your HTC figure out if a drug is affecting your bleeding.
Get in the habit of reading the label on the medicine bottle. It will tell you about side effects. It will tell you things to do or not to do when taking the medicine (things like "drink lots of water", "take with a meal", or "may make you drowsy"). Remember to check the medicine’s label to see if it has aspirin in it.
Some medicine labels are hard to understand. Ask your druggist for help. When you have a prescription filled, most drug stores will give you a sheet of paper telling you about the drug.
Take only as much medicine as your doctor or the label says. All drugs can hurt you if you take too much, even vitamins.
Take the medicine at the right times. Some drugs need to be taken around the clock. Some are taken at regular times during the day. Other drugs are just to be taken when you need them. Be sure to follow special rules such as "take after a meal" or "take on an empty stomach".
Keep all drugs in places where children cannot get to them.
Store medicines in the bottles they came in. You will be less likely to make mistakes.
Do not take medicine if the expiration date on the bottle has passed.
Know what side effects a drug has. If a medicine makes you sleepy, do not drive, run machines, or use sharp tools when you take it.
Do not drink alcohol when you are taking medicine unless your doctor or pharmacist says it is okay.
Do not keep medicine beside your bed. You could wake up at night confused and take an extra dose.
Do not double a dose of medicine to make it work faster. This does not help and can cause serious problems. Most medicines take at least 30 minutes to start working.
Know which drugs can make you addicted. Take these only with your doctor's okay and only as directed.
If it seems like a drug is no longer working for you, talk to your doctor. He or she may want to change your medicine instead of having you take more.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has guidelines for throwing away medicines. Some drugs can be flushed down the toilet. Others should be put in the trash after being mixed with coffee grounds. Some communities have programs where they will dispose of medicines for you. You can read all of the guidelines here.