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Prescription Medications

Antibiotics - Minor Tranquilizers and Sleeping Pills

There are thousands of different prescription medications used to treat hundreds of different medical conditions. Your doctor and your pharmacist are your best sources of

information about your prescription medications. Good books are available that contain information about many different prescription drugs.

Guidelines for taking every kind of prescription medication could fill several books. Common types covered here include antibiotics, minor tranquilizers, and sleeping pills.


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Antibiotics are drugs that kill bacteria. They are effective against bacteria only and have no effect on viruses. Therefore, antibiotics will not cure the common cold, flu, or any other viral illness. Unless you have a bacterial infection, it's best to avoid the possible adverse effects of antibiotics, which may include:

When you and your health professional have decided that an antibiotic is necessary, carefully follow the instructions for taking the prescription.

Minor Tranquilizers and Sleeping Pills

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Minor tranquilizers (such as Valium, Librium, Xanax, Tranxene, and Ativan) and sleeping pills (such as Dalmane, Halcion, Restoril, and Ambien) are widely prescribed. However, these drugs can cause problems, including memory loss, addiction, and injuries from falls caused by drug-induced unsteadiness.

Minor tranquilizers can be effective for short periods of time. However, long-term use is often of limited value and introduces the risk of addiction and mental impairment.

Sleeping pills may help for a few days or a few weeks, but using them for more than 1 month generally causes more sleep problems than it solves. For other approaches, See Sleep Problems.

If you have been taking minor tranquilizers or sleeping pills for a while, talk with your doctor about reevaluating your need for the medication or reducing your dosage. If you have experienced any unsteadiness, dizziness, or memory loss, tell your doctor.

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