What You Should Know About Your Medications


What You Should Know About Your Medications

As we get older, we’re often faced with more health conditions that need to be treated with medication on a regular basis. The more medications we take, the more difficult it can be to keep track of everything. But it’s important to learn as much as we can about each medication we take in order to avoid problems that might arise. 

Whether you’re taking care of your own medication or helping a loved one with theirs, it’s easier to keep track of if you carry a notebook specifically for notes on the medication. Use it to record the following information about all medications.  It will come in handy when talking with health care providers as well. 

What is the medication for?

Ask your doctor to tell you specifically what you’re taking each medication for. Don’t just rely on the Internet for this because some medications are prescribed for different reasons. Find out from your doctor exactly why the medication has been prescribed for you. You can use this information to share with other providers. 

How should the medication be taken?

It’s important to know exactly how to take your medications and when.  When the doctor prescribes a medication, you must take it exactly as prescribed. Doing otherwise could lead to failed results, unexpected side effects, and other potential problems. There may be times when your doctor needs to increase or decrease dosage, but this is not a decision you should make on your own unless your doctor has instructed you to do so. 

What to expect from the medication?

Some medications are meant to work immediately to relieve symptoms. Other medications need time to build up in the system before they can be effective. Your medication may actually cure your condition and not just the symptoms. You want to know what to expect from your medication (and when) so you can have an idea of whether or not it’s working and alert your doctor if you aren’t seeing the expected results.  

Will a generic version suffice?

Generic versions of most medications provide the same benefits at a lower cost.  Your doctor should be able to tell you if there is a generic version and whether or not it will do the job. 

Who is the manufacturer?

Most manufacturers have educational materials for their products.  This is a good resource to learn more information about what you’re taking. 

How to store the medication?

Some medications come with special storage instructions. For instance, your medication may need to be kept in the refrigerator to keep from deteriorating before you’ve finished it. The kitchen cabinet or other dark, dry space may be just fine for most of your medications, but it’s important to ask so you know for sure. 

What to do about a missed dose?

Sometimes, when you miss a dose, it’s appropriate to take it as soon as possible and then resume your normal schedule. Other times, you’ll want to wait and just double up at the next dose. But you need to know the specific missed-dose rules for each medication because the rules will be different for each one. For instance, doubling up could prove dangerous with the wrong medication. 

Common side effects?

If you know what the common side effects are for the mediation you’re taking, you’ll be able to help your doctors assess how your body is responding.  Most side effects are mild and will go away on their own. But other side effects can create more problems and become bothersome enough that it might be better to change to a different medication if possible.

What interacts with the medication?

Ask about interactions with medical conditions, other medications, and food and alcohol. Some foods can affect how the medication is absorbed. Interactions with other medications could make the medication stronger or weaker. Interactions with alcohol could make you feel slow and lethargic. When you’re armed with information about the interactions, you’ll be better equipped to avoid problems with your medication.

How to dispose of unused portions?

Responsible disposal of unused or expired medications helps keep children, pets, and the environment safe.  Follow instructions for each medication separately. Some may be ok to flush down the toilet or sink while others are not.  If you do not have specific instructions for disposing of your medications, your doctor should be able to help you find the information you need. 

Ask for help if you need it.  

There may come a time when your list of medications becomes too long to handle on your own. If you’re caretaking for a loved one, and you don’t know if they’re caught up on their medications, it can be scary.  Either way, if handling the medication gets to be too much, it may be time to consider moving your loved one to a skilled nursing facility.  

Here at Bella Vista Health Center in Lemon Grove, we understand the transition can be difficult, and we welcome you to come visit our 5-star facility to see what great care we take of our residents.  We have health care providers on site all hours of the day, and we will help make sure that your loved one maintains a complete medication schedule as prescribed by the doctor. We’re highly skilled, deeply compassionate, and we’re here when you’re ready.