There is no "cookbook" approach to the successful use of medications. You and your doctor will have to determine the best treatment approach for you.
Below are general guidelines for taking your medication. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist for guidelines specific to your treatment.
- Do not split pills, or pull capsules apart unless directed by your doctor.
- Drink six to 10 glasses of water a day.
- Warm baths or physical activity may help with digestion and absorption of your medication.
- Know the names of your medications and how they work. Know the generic and brand names, dosages, and potential side effects. Always keep a list of your medications and their dosages with you, and exactly how you are taking them. Keep the list with you in your wallet or purse.
- Take your medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
- Do not stop taking or change your medications unless you talk to your doctor first. Even if you feel good, continue to take your medications. Stopping your medications suddenly can make your condition worse.
- Do not double the dose of your medication.
- Have a routine for taking your medications. Take your medications at the same time each day. Get a pillbox that is marked with the days of the week, and fill it at the beginning of the week to make it easier for you to remember.
- Keep a medicine calendar and note every time you take a dose.
- If you miss a dose of your medication at the scheduled time, don't panic. Take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your regular medication schedule. Set an alarm clock if necessary.
- Do not keep outdated drugs. Throw old drugs away.
- Store medications in a dry area away from moisture (unless your doctor or pharmacist tells you the medicine needs to be refrigerated).
- Always keep medications out of the reach of children.
- Know what side effects to expect from your medications. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any unusual or unexpected side effects after taking your medication.
- Do not share your medications with others.
- Keep your medications in your carry-on luggage when you travel. Do not pack your medications in a suitcase that is checked, in case the suitcase is lost.
- Take extra medication with you when you travel in case your flight is delayed and you need to stay away longer than planned.
- Do not wait until you are completely out of medication before filling your prescriptions; call the pharmacy at least 48-hours before running out. If you have trouble getting to the pharmacy, have financial concerns or have other problems that make it difficult for you to get your medications, let your doctor know. A social worker may be available to help you.
Avoiding Interactions With Other Medications
- Read all labels carefully.
- Make all health care providers aware of all the medications you are using.
- Know your drug and food allergies.
- Make a list of your medications and dosages. Eye drops, vitamins, herbal supplements, and some skin products are considered medications and should be included on your list. Keep this with you and update it as necessary.
- Review possible drug side effects. Most reactions will occur when a new drug is started, but this is not always the case. Some reactions may be delayed or may occur when a new medication is added.
- Use one pharmacy if possible. Try to fill all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy, so the pharmacist can monitor for interactions and provide proper dosing and refills.
You have the right and responsibility to know what drugs are being prescribed for you. The more you know about your medications and how they work, the easier it will be for you to control your symptoms. You and your doctor are partners in developing, adjusting, and following an effective medication plan. Make sure that you understand and share the same treatment goals as your doctor. Talk about what you should expect from medications so that you can know if your treatment plan is working.