According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 2 million poisonings are reported in the United States each year, with 90% taking place in the home. Poisoning is one of the leading causes of death among adults, and seniors are especially vulnerable, due to the many medications often in the home. It’s easy to mix up medications and their dosages.

You can prevent accidental poisoning by keeping medications in their original containers and checking the labels before you take anything. Also, keep a current, up-to-date list of all the medications you are taking, and review them with your doctor each time you go in for a visit. This way, your doctor can prescribe new medications, if needed, without fear of them interacting with what you’re already taking.

Things to know about your prescription medicines:

  • The names of all the medicines you have been prescribed and are taking.
  • Why you take it or what it does for you.
  • How to use your medicine or the directions for taking the medicine.
  • What the possible side effects are.

Things to know about over the counter medicines:

  • What are the active ingredients and recommended dosages.
  • Make sure that the active ingredients aren’t the same for two or more medications you’re taking.
  • Know which over the counter medicines could react negatively with your prescriptions. Ask your pharmacist or health care provider if you’re unsure.

It should go without saying that medications should only be taken as directed, but it’s important to remind ourselves of this. If you fear you’ve taken a medication improperly, or someone you know has, contact Poison Help at 1-(800)-222-1222. This number will connect you to your local Poison Help Center where you can talk with a poison expert to get the care you need.