Stay Healthy: Take Your Medicine Just as the Doctor Ordered
One of the most important ways you can manage your health is by taking your medications as directed. This is often called medication adherence.
A surprising number of people do not take their medication as directed. This can result in avoidable illnesses, hospital stays and even death. Taking your medication as directed is a simple and powerful way for you to manage your health and stay as well as possible.
As a first step, become familiar with this basic information about all of your prescriptions:
- The dose of your medication
- How many pills are in each dose
- When to take your medication
- How to take your medication (with or without food, at night, etc.)
- Possible side effects and drug interactions
- How to store your medication
If you are not sure why you are taking a certain medication, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Overcome Barriers to Taking Your Medicine As Directed
If you find that you are having trouble taking your medication as directed, try to figure out why.
Do you just forget? Or do you experience unpleasant side effects? Is the medication too costly? Some people even choose to not take their medication because they do not feel any 'symptoms' and therefore decide treatment is unnecessary.
If you find that any of these barriers apply to you, please talk to your physician. Open and honest communication with your doctor is critical to your overall health and wellness. And your doctor may be able to help you overcome your barriers to taking your prescriptions as directed.
Side Effects - Side effects are a major reason why many people find it difficult to take medications as directed. Some side effects are manageable, but others are more severe. If you are experience side effects that get in the way of taking your medicine, talk to your doctor about options. For example, you may require a reduced dosage or a change in medication or treatment plan. Your health care provider may adjust your medications if you are having difficulty taking them exactly as directed.
- If you are having trouble affording your medication, talk to your physician about lower-cost generic options. There are many generics available. Generics have passed the rigorous testing by the Food and Drug Association and are safe. Follow this link to learn more about generics
Simple Ways to Remember to Take Your Medicine
What if you just forget to take your medicine? Here are some helpful tips:
- Use a seven-day pill box. Fill the pill box once a week with your medications for the entire week.
- Take your medications at the same time every day.
- Use a method to help you remember to take your medications. Set an alarm clock or use a cellphone alarm.
- Plan ahead for changes in your daily routine.
- Keep a medication diary (PDF). Write down the name of your medication, dose, number of pills to take, and when to take them.
- Keep all medical and lab appointments and add them to your medication diary.
When You Forget to Take Your Medicine
If you forget to take your medication, unless your health care provider tells you otherwise, take the missed dose as soon as you remember you skipped it.
If it is almost time for the next dose of medication, do not take the missed dose and just continue on your regular medication schedule.
Never double the dose to make up for a missed dose.