Medications in palm of hand

Medications play a crucial role in managing various health conditions and improving quality of life for many individuals. There are many different types of medications, and it can often be confusing to understand what each medication does for the body.

  • Analgesics are pain-relieving medications, available both over-the-counter and through prescription. Common examples include acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin. They help alleviate mild to moderate pain, whether it’s due to headaches, muscle aches or inflammation.
  • Antibiotics are prescribed to treat bacterial infections. They work by either killing bacteria or preventing its growth. It’s important to use antibiotics carefully and only as prescribed to avoid antibiotic resistance.
  • Antidepressants are used to manage depression and other mood disorders. They work by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. Antidepressants can take several weeks to reach their full effect and are often prescribed alongside therapy.
  • Antihypertensive medications help lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels or reducing the volume of blood pumped by the heart. They help manage high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Antidiabetic medications are used to manage blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. They include insulin and various oral and injectable medications that work by different mechanisms to either increase insulin sensitivity, reduce glucose production in the liver, or enhance insulin secretion from the pancreas.
  • Antihistamines are commonly used to relieve allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itching and runny nose. They work by blocking the action of histamine, a substance released by the immune system during allergic reactions.
  • Cholesterol-lowering medications, also known as statins, are often prescribed to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting its production in the liver. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Bronchodilators are used to treat respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They work by relaxing the muscles around the airways, making it easier to breathe.

These are just a few examples of the wide range of medications available to treat various health conditions. It’s important to use medications responsibly by following your healthcare provider’s instructions and reporting any side effects or concerns promptly.

If you have questions about the medications you take, but don’t know who to ask, book a free, 30-minute appointment with Island Health pharmacist, Kristin Rogers. She can help enhance your understanding of medications, discuss dosage instructions, potential side effects and more. Appointments are available upon request by calling Island Health Education at 360.299.4204 or emailing

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Published on May 1, 2024