Medicine Tips

The festive season is a busy time catching up with family, friends, weddings, and work events. The craziness of the season can mean that routines get disrupted and remembering your normal schedule becomes harder.

This can have implications for taking your medicines safely. Here are a few tips for your medicines and the holiday season to ensure you stay on top of your health and don’t miss any important prescriptions.

  • Refill your prescriptions early: Make sure you don’t run out of medicines. If you take regular medicines, make sure you have enough to last you over the holidays, especially if you are planning on travelling and might not have quick and easy access to a pharmacy or doctor. Like most people, doctors take time off over Christmas and New Year, so find out whether they will be working over the holidays. 
     
  • Use reminder aids: Remembering to take your medicines regularly and at the correct time isn't always easy when you are catching up with family or enjoying those numerous summer BBQs. Reminder aids include setting an alarm, using a medicine reminder app, using a pillbox, or using blister packs. Talk to us about options we can help you with. 
     
  • Know what to do if you miss a dose: Ask your pharmacist what to do if you miss a dose of your medicine. For most medicines, you can take your next dose at the usual time and at your usual dose. Do not take any more than your doctor prescribed. However, there are some medicines where a missed dose can be a problem and you should contact your pharmacist for advice on what to do. Examples of these include and are not limited to the combined oral contraceptive pill and the mini-pill (if you miss a dose, you may be at risk of becoming pregnant), epilepsy medicines, warfarin, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and other oral anticoagulants (used to prevent blood clots) and insulin.
     
  • Some medicines may interact with alcohol: The festive season often means a bit of over-indulgence from eating, drinking and being merry. Taking some medicines with alcohol can cause problems. In most cases, it can increase the risk of side effects or change the effect the medicine has. Alcohol may also trigger or worsen certain health conditions.
     
  • Take care in the sun: Summer often means spending more time outdoors and in the sun which can be dangerous. Some medicines may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight or increase your risk of sunburn. This is called drug-induced photosensitivity so if your medication is making you more vulnerable to sun damage make sure you have a high SPF sunscreen and slip, slop, and wrap.
     
  • Medicines and driving: Some prescription and over-the-counter medicines can affect you in a way that makes it unsafe for you to drive. In New Zealand, it’s against the law to drive while impaired. If you’re taking medicines and are driving, you need to know how your medicines can affect you by asking your doctor or pharmacist about this, stop driving or don’t start driving if you feel impaired. 
     
  • Medicines and storage: Most medicines need to be stored in cool conditions away from heat and direct sunlight. The way you need to store your medicines is usually written on the packaging or on the information leaflet with your medicine. You can also ask your pharmacist for advice. If your medicine needs to be kept cool, refrigerated bags are a great idea while travelling. Avoid storing medicines in your car’s glovebox or other places that are in direct sunlight or heat. Also remember to store your medicines out of reach of children.