How to Be Sure You Are Taking Your Medication Correctly

How to Be Sure You Are Taking Your Medication Correctly

For many individuals, medication – both prescription and over-the-counter – is an important part of their treatment plan. Medication compliance, or your ability to properly follow your provider’s instruction on medication therapy, plays a key role in the effectiveness of a patient’s overall treatment plan.

Below are a few helpful reminders on medication compliance.

Follow directions

Some medications are used to treat symptoms and some are used to prevent disease. Skipping a dose can have serious consequences. Taking your medication as prescribed allows for the optimal level of effectiveness.

A matter of cost

With or without insurance coverage, prescription medication can be costly. To save money, some patients take only one dose a day or cut pills in half hoping to stretch out their prescription.

This can negatively affect your health and will impact your treatment plan. While finances can be hard to discuss, talk to your doctor if you don’t think you can afford your prescriptions.

Go all the way

I can’t tell you how often patients say that they stopped taking medication once symptoms have subsided. This frequently happens with antibiotics. By taking them for only a few days instead of the full course, the antibiotic might eliminate some of the bacteria but the surviving bacteria become more resistant and can be spread to others.

For those on long-term therapy, such as thyroid or heart medications, being faithful to your prescription regime is just as important. Research reveals that the rate of medication compliance goes down after the first six months of starting the therapy. Taking medication as prescribed is essential for both short- and long-term therapy.

No sharing

Prescriptions are not one-size-fits-all. Rather, they are prescribed for each patient based on weight, other medications being used, blood pressure, etc. It’s also important to know that it is against the law to share prescription pain medications with others.

The sum of the parts

Your provider needs to know everything you’re taking including prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as vitamins and supplements.

Certain drugs and even supplements can interfere with prescription medicine effectiveness. In addition to bringing an updated medication list with you to all medical visits, it’s also helpful to use the same pharmacy so that they can help monitor for potential drug interactions.

It’s okay to ask

Research shows that some of the most common causes of errors in taking medications are caused by misunderstanding directions. Not everyone is comfortable asking questions. Remember, you play a key role in your own well-being. If you don’t understand what a medication is for, how or when you should take it or if you feel overwhelmed by the high volume of medications required per day, talk to your provider.

Your doctor is truly there to help and welcomes your questions!  

About this Experts Contributor: Dr. Elfat Rumman earned practices with Thunderbird Internal Medicine, which provides medical services in Phoenix. A board certified internist, Dr. Rumman is committed to spending the time needed to educate her patients and enjoys working with individuals from all cultures.

As of September 17, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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