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Steps to Be Informed About Medicines…

October 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Health, News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) The only way a person can make informed decisions and use medicines safely is to know what information is important to obtain from health professionals, how to incorporate the medicine into your daily lifestyle, how to manage side effects, when to seek medical help and how to keep track of important information for the doctor and pharmacist.

Here are some thoughts on how to safely take the medicines prescribed for your health:

Ask your doctor WHY you need the medicine being prescribed and HOW it is going to help you. Discuss any concerns you have about taking the medicine so that you have all the information you need to decide whether you want to take it. If you do not want to take the medicine, discuss this with your doctor so that a treatment more acceptable to you can be prescribed.

Since the average person forgets 50% of what the doctor tells them by the time they arrive at the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist to go over all the instructions again.

If you would feel more comfortable speaking with the pharmacist in a private area, ask for it. Ask the pharmacist to show you the actual medicine so that you know which medicine is used to treat which symptom(s).

Many people stop taking a medicine because they think they are allergic to it. Actually they may have had a minor side effect. If you have any questions about whether a symptom is an allergy or a side effect, always ask your doctor and pharmacist.

Some medicines, such as inhalers to treat asthma, require complicated steps. Your doctor and pharmacist can show you the steps to follow when using an inhaler so that the medicine will reach your lungs and not get sprayed on the back of your throat where it will not work. Ask the pharmacist to let you practice using the inhaler in the pharmacy.

A prescription label that states “Take 1 tablet 3 times a day” does not give you enough information. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to help you determine the best times to take the medication so you can easily work the dosage schedule into your daily activities, meal times and work. You will find it easier to remember to take your medicine if it fits in with your normal lifestyle.

Try not to adjust your medicine or skip doses without discussing this first with your doctor or pharmacist. Some medicines can have very serious side effects if they are stopped suddenly.

Many prescription medicines can interact with each other as well as with over-the-counter products and herbal remedies. Your doctor and pharmacist should review all of your medicines at each visit and make sure that you are not taking any prescription medicines that can interact. It is important that you tell them if you are self-treating with any over-the-counter product or herbal remedies. Even better, ask them before you start self-treating!

If you receive written instructions only lists side effects that could occur, ask for more information. You need to know how to recognize the early symptoms of common side effects and how to manage side effects that may be annoying but are minor. You also need to know when you should contact your doctor because of a side effect. If you do not understand a medical term, do not be embarrassed to ask what that term means. Keep asking until you understand it!

If you think you are having a side effect and don’t know what to do, call your doctor or pharmacist. You also need to tell them if you have done anything to try to treat it — such as skipping a dose, stopping the medicine, or taking an over-the-counter or herbal remedy. This information is important.

Some people find it helpful to keep a “medicine diary” they can take with them to their next doctor and pharmacy visit. This diary can help you remember important information to tell your doctor so the doctor can decide if you really had a side effect or if the symptom may have been caused by something else. Your diary can also help remind you of important questions you want to ask.

Some medicines must be stored away from heat, light or moisture in order to keep their strength. If you are traveling in a car during hot weather, don’t store your medicines in the glove compartment of the car. The heat can destroy the medicine and it may not work.

Select your pharmacist with the same care that you select your doctor. You want a pharmacist who will take the time to counsel you at every visit and answer your questions.

You should expect to receive written information from the pharmacy that you can take home. Keep this written information in a handy place where you can find it if you need it. However, the written instructions should NEVER take the place of personal counseling. You need your questions answered so you can manage your medicines safely!

Find out how many days in advance you should order your refills. Ask your pharmacist to develop a program to help remind you to get your refills.

If you are having trouble remembering to take your medicine, it is important to let your doctor know this. Otherwise, your doctor may think that the medicine is not working and may prescribe another medicine that is less effective or has more side effects. All that really may be needed is to work out a more convenient dosage schedule for you.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions!!

Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one.

Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible!

Written By Glenn Ellis


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