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Taking Medicines as Prescribed - Medicine and Long-Term Health Problems

You may be taking medicine for a long-term (chronic) health problem. Some chronic diseases can be controlled, but they usually cannot be cured. You may need to take one or more medicines for the rest of your life.

Here are some examples of common chronic health problems and how medicines help:

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  • Medicines for type 2 diabetes can help your body make more insulin or decrease resistance to insulin. Some diabetes medicines slow how quickly your body absorbs carbohydrate. All of these medicines help you manage high blood sugar. Managing your blood sugar can lower your risk of eye, heart, blood vessel, nerve, and kidney disease.
  • Medicine for high cholesterol helps lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Medicines for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) help you feel better and make it easier for you to breathe. You may be less likely to need to go to the hospital.
  • Medicines for osteoarthritis help with pain and allow you to be more active. Being active can also reduce pain and make joints and muscles stronger. Being active can help slow how fast osteoarthritis gets worse and may help prevent falls.

Taking a lot of pills increases your chances of having problems. If you take more than one medicine that works the same way, you could get too high a dose. And sometimes medicines work against each other. So make sure you know how to stay safe when you take several medicines.

For some ideas about how you can remember to take your medicines, pay for them, and when to call your doctor, see Quick Tips: Taking Medicines Wisely.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 23, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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