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Taking Medicines as Prescribed
Taking medicine as your doctor prescribes may improve your health and may prevent future problems. Not taking medicines properly could put your health or your life at risk.
Taking your medicines safely is especially important for those who take a lot of medicines. 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.
Problems may be more likely if:
- You see more than one doctor and don't tell each one about the medicines you take.
- You use more than one drugstore. Unless you tell them, those pharmacists may not know all the medicines you take.
- You're an older adult. As you age, your body slows down. Some medicines stay in your body longer.
- One medicine gives you side effects, so you take another one to feel better.
- You take herbs or vitamins without talking to your doctor or pharmacist first.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for help taking your medicine. Try to take each of your medicines at the same time each day. Keep a list of your medicines. To keep track of all your pills, try using a weekly medicine organizer.
How to Take Your Medicines
Taking your medicines as your doctor says may include:
- What time of day you take them.
- How much you take.
- How you take them, such as with water or food.
- How long you need to take them.
Try to take each of your medicines at the same time each day. Make a list of your medicines, and post it someplace where you will see it often. The list should include the name of each medicine, the dose, how often you take it and when, and any special instructions (such as whether you take it with meals or on an empty stomach).
To keep track of all your pills, try using a weekly medicine organizer.
Overcoming Barriers to Taking Your Medicines
People have trouble taking medicines properly for many reasons. If you're having problems taking your medicines as prescribed, it may help to think about why you're having trouble. What barrier is getting in your way?
When you know why you're having trouble, you can find ways to deal with the problems. This may make it easier to take your medicines as your doctor wants you to.
Here are some common barriers to taking medicines, along with some ideas for dealing with them.
"Medicines cause side effects that bother me."
"The medicine makes me feel worse."
"I think the medicine is making my health problem worse."
"The medicine costs too much."
"I don't have insurance."
"It's hard to keep track of so many medicines."
"I forget when and how to take all of these medicines."
"Sometimes I just forget to take my medicines."
"My schedule keeps changing, so it's hard to remember to take my medicine."
"I keep getting interrupted before I can take my medicine."
"I run out of my medicine."
"I feel good, so I don't take my medicine."
"I don't think my medicine is working."
"I need to use an inhaler, but it's too hard to use."
"I have to give myself a shot, and it's hard for me."
"It's hard for me to swallow pills."
Current as of: February 28, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.
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