Why Should I Read Medicine Labels?
Consumers have become very savvy about reading food labels,
especially when it comes to calories, carbohydrates or fat grams. Surprisingly,
however, most consumers are not taking the time to read the labels or package
inserts for their prescription or over-the-counter medicines. Why is this important?
Medicine labels include important information that is mandated-and reviewed-by
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to benefit your health.
Medicine product labels include information about active
ingredients as well as inactive ingredients. This helps you identify anything
you might be allergic to, or whether the medicine contains ingredients that
are also in other medicines you are taking at the same time for different purposes.
The "Uses" section tells you what the drug is for and can help you find the
best product for your symptoms. The "Warnings" section is particularly important:
here's where you can find out who should NOT take this product, when to stop
taking the drug, medical conditions that may make the drug less effective or
unsafe, and when to talk to a doctor or pharmacist before use.
The "Directions" section of the label tells you precisely
how to take the medicine and how much, as well as how long you may safely take
that medication. This section may also tell you how the medicine should be stored
or other specific instructions such as whether or not to take the medicine with
food or on an empty stomach. Sometimes medicines have specific instructions
that may not be obvious, such as avoiding sun exposure. Most importantly, the
"Questions?" section of the label provides a telephone number to call if you
have any product related questions. It is usually best to ask your physician
or pharmacist any specific questions you may have about any medicines you may
Created: 3/4/2004  - Donnica Moore, M.D.