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We are now going to look at contraindications, allergies, and overdoses. Homely remedies are non-prescription medication. These can be given at any time to a service user. For example, if somebody had a cold or a cough, they could be given extra medication. Always ensure that you've checked the medication that's being given to them and that it's not going to react with any medication that they're currently prescribed.

Contraindications, these are reasons why a medication cannot be given. For example, Nurofen, Ibuprofen should not be given to somebody with stomach problems. Nurofen and Ibuprofen must always be given with food. If they're not given with food, it can attack the stomach lining and therefore can cause an ulcer. Also, Nurofen and Ibuprofen are contraindicated in asthmatics because it affects their breathing rate. Another medication that's contraindicated is paracetamol. This cannot be given to somebody with liver problems or alcohol dependency.

Another example would be if you had a service user or client on Warfarin, which is a medication used to thin the blood. You would not want to give any other medication which has blood thinning properties, such as aspirin. You will then need to consider any allergies. Does your service user or client have an allergic reaction to any medication? This will be indicated on the MAR chart in red ink. Always check every MAR chart for allergies. More often than not, most reactions will be quite minimal: A rash may cause some breathing difficulties. But of course, we do need to be aware of an anaphylactic reaction, which is a severe reaction to a substance which has gone into the body. In this instance, the emergency services would need to be called. Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction. Initially, you will notice that their breathing may start to become laboured. There may be some swelling in the face, around the mouth, their airways will close up and they will stop breathing. If you notice any of these signs, the earlier you call the emergency services the better because time is of the essence.

When giving medication for the first time, it's always important to monitor your service user or client after taking a medication. Any side effects, no matter how small, need to be reported and need to be monitored. The GP needs to be informed and he will then decide whether or not to continue with the current course of medication. It's always worth noting that the side effects may not always become apparent after the first dose of medication. Certainly, with antibiotics, it's often the second dose that will produce the side effects rather than the first dose. So, monitor for the first couple of days if somebody's starting a new medication.

We're now going to look at an overdose. It's very easy to accidentally overdose somebody. This is why you need to be aware of the medication that is prescribed and any extra medication you're giving. For example, if you've got somebody taking paracetamol regularly for mild pain relief and they've now developed a cold, and you want to give them a Lemsip. Lemsip contains paracetamol. If you were to give three or four doses of Lemsip over the course of the day alongside their regularly medicated paracetamol, you are risking overdosing them. Certainly, if it's an elderly client and their liver isn't working as well as it should, you will cause them problems.

Also, if you've administered medication to a service user or client and they've vomited soon after, and you can see what looks like a tablet within their vomit, you would not administer that medication again. We don't know how much of the medication has been absorbed into their body, so we would document what we can see, what we administered and what we can see within the vomit. We would also then, ensure that our line manager is aware and, if necessary, speak to the GP. We would not administer the medication again.

When talking about overdoses, this is where the importance of ensuring that your service user or client takes their medication and you see them take it. It has been known in the past for service users to store up medication, where they haven't taken it in front of the person administering it. You need to ensure that the medication you have administered is taken at the time you have signed for. It may be that they think they'll take it later, and then they store and store. And then at some point, they may take it all, not realising that they haven't taken it for a few days. The consequences of this could prove fatal and the records will be checked. I can't stress enough the importance of ensuring that your service user that you have dispensed the medication for, has taken the medication. If left on the side, this could be picked up and misused by any other person within the vicinity. If you suspect that a client or service user has taken an overdose, be it accidental, always alert the emergency services. We don't know how long ago or how much they've taken and it's always better to err on the side of caution.