Detoxing the body of regular or long-term medication could cause serious health complications, health experts behind Ask Your Pharmacist Week have warned.
Although detoxing is most popular for cleansing the body by cutting out unhealthy foods, alcohol and toxins, the survey by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) found that one in five believe that it is beneficial to give the body a 'medicine detox' from long-term medication.
Researchers from the study have warned that restricting the body of essential medicines for conditions like diabetes, asthma or depression, could allow the disease to become uncontrolled. This ultimately increases the risk of devastating health complications.
"There is a lot of misunderstanding about how medicines work in your body. It's important to get the right treatment and the right advice," says Leyla Hannbeck from the NPA.
"We are especially concerned that people with long-term conditions may feel it is right to 'detox' from time to time by taking a break from their prescribed medicines. For someone with, say, asthma, diabetes or depression, the result of doing so can be catastrophic."
The survey also discovered that many misunderstand the importance of being vigilant when it comes to taking prescribed or over-the-counter medication.
Nearly a third of people think it's fine to take non-prescription medicines that have been recommended to someone else. A quarter of those questioned incorrectly thought that aspirin is a weaker version of ibuprofen and 50% believe that the flu vaccine causes flu.
Even more worrying is that one in ten adults never check the expiration date on medication in their cupboards, meaning millions of us could be popping pills years out of date.
"The benefits of a frank and full conversation with a pharmacist about your medicines can be enormous - you'll get the most out of your medicine and you're also less likely to suffer harm through inappropriate use," explains Hannbeck.
"Ask any questions you may have, no matter how trivial you think they are. When you go into your local pharmacy, remember you can access a package of care there, not just packets of pills. There is expert health and wellbeing advice and a range of services that you might not even know are there."
Here, the National Pharmacy Association reveals the truth behind the most common mediciation myths with advice on how to manage your medication safely:
Truth: All medicines can interact with others, whether they are on a prescription or not. Don't be tempted to share medicines intended for you with other people as they may not be suitable for them and could cause problems if they take them. If you have a minor ailment and would like medicine for it, visit your pharmacist who can give you a medicine that will be most suitable for you.
Truth: Since children are generally smaller than adults, you might think that it's okay to give your child a smaller dose of a specific medicine made for adults. This, however, is not the case and can be downright dangerous. A child is not simply a smaller version of an adult. Their metabolism and physiology are different in terms of drug metabolism. An adult medication is significantly stronger than what a child should take and they are formulated specifically for adults. Always aim to give your children medications formulated for children, unless an adult medication clearly gives directions for children.
Truth: Medicines are not effective once they have passed their expiry date so it is very important to have a regular look inside your medicine cabinet. For example you might be surprised to know the following facts about common medicines.
Truth: Flu vaccines can give flu-like symptoms such as a sore arm or feeling hot but there is no live virus in the flu vaccine, so there is no possibility of catching flu from the vaccine.
Truth: Weight gain is a listed side effect of the contraceptive pill but it is not inevitable that you will put on weight. Poor diet, lack of exercise and drinking too much alcohol can contribute to weight gain. Weight gain during the hormonal cycle can also be down to fluid retention. If you're worried about weight gain or about taking the contraceptive pill, ask your pharmacist for advice.
Truth: Aspirin and ibuprofen are both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs but should not be thought of as the same medicine. If you have high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, asthma, stomach ulcers or liver and kidney disease, aspirin may not be suitable for you. Ibuprofen may cause drowsiness and dizziness and can interact adversely if you have blood clotting problems, stomach ulcers, kidney or heart problems.