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Medication labels

Understanding how to read a medication label is important. Many labels look different or can be in a different order but they all contain the same information. Take a look at the diagram and see what to look for.

Select an image to enlarge. The description of each item continues below.

Example of a medication label with drug facts such as active ingredients, drug name, dosage, uses, and warnings.  Example of the second part of a medication label with drug facts such as side effects, directions, and inactive ingredients.

  1. Active ingredients: This tells you what drug(s) this medication contains that make it work.
  2. (in each **): This tells you the quantity amount that has the drugs listed below. This is similar to serving size. It can also be listed for liquids as "in each 5ml."
  3. Drug name: Tells you the drug name with the "mg" amount written beside it. The purpose is what the drug is for. This area can have multiple drugs listed. Each drug name would be listed with the "mg" amount and the purpose the drug works for.
  4. Uses: This tells you what this medication can be taken for.
  5. Warnings: This tells you reasons you should not take it and other safety information.
  6. Continued warnings: Information about taking this medication during pregnancy or breastfeeding is included under warnings.
  7. Poison Control Center number: Poison Control is listed on medications in case of medication overdoses.
  8. Directions: This tells you how much and how often you can take the medication. Make sure to read for age appropriate dosing.
  9. Inactive ingredients: These can vary from different manufacturers. These are not the working drugs of the medication but are other ingredients used to make the medications.
  10. Questions or comments: This is where the manufacturer or companies call line is located. Call this number if questions or concerns regarding making or packaging of this medication.