Managing your medication at work


Taking prescription or other medication at work doesn't have to be a big deal. It is, however, important to make sure you do it consistently and as prescribed (or indicated). Here are some of things you may want to think about when taking medication at work:

Know the side effects. If you're starting a new medication, it may be smart to begin taking it on a weekend so that you have an idea of how it affects you. Talk to your health care provider about what to expect when taking your medication. Your pharmacist also is a great resource for information. Working while taking pain killers, for example, may disrupt your concentration or leave you more irritable than normal.

Be aware of possible drug interactions. Are you taking more than one medication? Make sure your health care provider is aware of what else you're taking when he or she prescribes something new; also make sure you have all of your medication prescriptions with one pharmacy. In this way, the pharmacist will be able to accurately track any potential interactions and advise you on how to take your medication properly and effectively. It's also important to know that any over-the-counter medications you take — including supplements and vitamins — should be noted on your medication list.

Vitamins, herbal and dietary supplements count, too. It's not uncommon these days to be taking any number of supplements or vitamins that have been shown to have healthful properties. Step into any grocery store these days, and you'll find an aisle devoted to such natural or wellness remedies. These supplements may seem benign because they don't require a prescription, but like other medications, they have the potential to interact with what you're already taking. When you go to the doctor or fill a prescription at the pharmacy, be sure to share the medications you're already taking — including supplements and vitamins — to help avoid an unexpected reaction.

Should you take it with food? The last thing any of us wants is to feel lousy or out of sorts while working. Know if the medication you're prescribed is best when taken with food (versus on an empty stomach). You may want to find out, too, if certain foods can interact with your medication, leading to stomach upset. For example, recent news reports have called out grapefruit and grapefruit juice as potential threats when mixed with certain medications.

Know the active ingredient. If you're someone who takes over-the-counter medicine for a headache or a cold, for example, we recommend that you pay attention to the active ingredient in your pain reliever as well the active ingredient in any prescriptions you are taking. Some prescription pain relievers, such as Percocet, contain acetaminophen. Too much acetaminophen can lead to liver damage.

Find a safe place to store it. Does your medication need to be stored at a certain temperature? Can you leave most of it home and take a small portion with you to work? And if you need it all at work, is there a place you can store it that's safe and perhaps even locked? Certain drugs, sadly, have a high street value; make sure your medication is secure so that you have access to it when you need it.

Should you tell someone? If you take medication at work for a life-threatening condition, it may be wise to share this information with a colleague or supervisor for your own safety.