How to Manage Your Medicine at Work

Medically Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on March 16, 2024
3 min read

Do you need to take prescription or over-the-counter medicine during work hours? You may need some extra help to organize, store, and remember all the details during your busy day. It's super-important, though, because staying on the right schedule will help keep your condition under control. And research shows that the easier it is to take meds on the job, the more likely you are to keep it up.  

Need a little help? Here are some simple tips.

Is your workplace unlocked? That can be an open invitation to thieves. If you can't keep your medications secure, tuck them in your purse, briefcase, backpack, or pocket.

Most medications are fine stored at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. But if your workplace is hot, humid, or cold, or if it contains chemicals, that could be a problem. Your drugs may not work as well -- or worse, cause some unwanted side effects.

Read the leaflet that came with your prescription, and talk to your pharmacist. Find out if your meds need to be kept in a fridge. If they do, make sure the one in the break room is secure, or bring along an insulated lunch bag.

Bring enough medication for the day ahead, of course, but have some extra on hand as well. This will tide you over if there's an emergency and reassure you that you have plenty of meds while away from home.

If you're taking pills, you can probably swallow them most anywhere without attracting attention. If you're injecting insulin or another drug, though, you'll need a safe, private place.

If you're on oxygen, make sure your office, cubicle, or work area is a safe place to use it and is large enough to handle your equipment.

You may want to tell a supervisor or co-worker that you take medications, especially if they're for a life-threatening illness. Knowledge is power. Your colleagues can be on the lookout for side effects or for signs that the medication isn't working.

This is entirely up to you. According to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), you're not required to disclose any prescription medications unless they pose a safety threat.

Put medications on your to-do list to help you stay on track. If possible, schedule "medicine time" when you know you'll be free, like during lunch or a break.

If your workday is unpredictable, set an alarm on your watch, phone, or computer. Multiple meds may require multiple alarms, but don't worry. Your colleagues will think those pings are reminding you about meetings or messages.

Choose a drugstore with a branch near your workplace. It can be a huge help. If you forget your medications, the pharmacy can look up your prescription and give you an emergency supply to keep you going.

Trying out a new medicine? Do it on one of your days off from work. That way, you'll have a better chance to observe side effects, like drowsiness or irritability, before you go back to the job.

If a drug makes you drowsy, ask your doctor about an alternative, or talk to your supervisor about how this will affect your performance. And remember that even over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines can make you less alert.

Do you find it hard to stay on schedule? Talk to your doctor about replacing pills that are taken 3 or 4 times a day with extended-release versions you only need once or twice a day. That way, you may be able to take all your medications at home.