The three biggest problems with taking medication (drugs) are: (1) that some people take far too many different ones without knowing how they react with each other, (2) they take the wrong kind of drugs or (3) they take too little of a drug for it to be helpful.
For drugs to work best, people must:
Use the right drug.
In the right amount.
At the right time.
Buy the right method: liquid, tablets, drops (for ears, eyes and nose), ointment, sprays, suppositories, injections.
Make sure they work well with any other drugs they are taking.
Whenever you see your doctor, go to a clinic or to an emergency department, make sure to have a current list of all your medications, how often you take them and what dose you take. This helps to spot any oversights in the amount and kind of medication you are taking. If you do not have a list, bring all your medications with you in the containers you got from the pharmacist.
Pharmacists are very knowledgeable about drugs and how they react with other medications. When you get a prescription filled, ask the pharmacist about side effects, mixing with other drugs (have a list of your drugs with you) and any tips on how you can take your drugs in the right way. Also ask if there are any foods, drinks or personal habits that might affect the usefulness of the medication. For example, ask if one should not have alcohol with this medication or should not drive after taking it. Medications do affect people mentally and physically. People may have behaviour changes, hallucinations or other mild to severe reactions. You have to be very careful to make sure the medications are more helpful than harmful.
If you forget to give a drug at the right time, check with your doctor or pharmacist about what to do. Do not double the dose at the next scheduled time without their permission, as this might be dangerous.
Note: If you are taking complementary therapies like vitamins, herbs, or are on a special diet, tell your doctor or pharmacist. For example, some Chinese herbs may be harmful when combined with certain medications.
You may be taking several drugs and your prescriptions may change from time to time. The following record allows you to keep track of your drugs, what dose should be taken, at what time, with what conditions (e.g., take one hour before a meal, only with milk), and how well the drugs are working. The prescription date and the doctor’s name are useful in emergency situations when your regular doctor may not be available to help you.
Make up your own chart on some separate pages. The following is a sample of how it might look. Change it to meet your own needs.
Date Drug Dose Taken Doctor Results/Side Effects
Aug 1 Tylenol 3 10 mg 4 times a day Kildair Pain relieved after 5 hours but returned three weeks later.
Aug 23 Tylenol 3 20 mg 4 times a day Kildair Pain relieved after 6 hours.
If you are taking various drugs, a Medication Table is useful to help you remember what to take, when and with what special instructions (e.g., with milk, during a meal). Use a pencil to fill in the drugs since they may change over time and you do not want to rewrite a whole list each time.
Time Drug(s) Special Instructions
8:00 a.m. Give drug names, dose and Take yellow pills with milk
colour (e.g., yellow pills).
4:00 p.m. Give drug names, dose and Do not drive after taking pink
colour (e.g., yellow pills). liquid
10:00 p.m. Give drug names, dose and Take drugs before bedtime.
colour (e.g., yellow pills).
Make up your own schedule. Under the time column, list all the different times of the day that you need to take drugs. Some drugs you will only need to take once a day while another one might be every 4, 8 or 12 hours.
Local pharmacists often sell ‘Dosettes’. These boxes have many small compartments and they can be used to prepare medication for a day or a few days at a time. They are very helpful in reminding people what to take at what time of day.
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Click here for Harry’s previous article on Symptom Control Techniques.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. If you have any questions or are considering any recommendations, please consult your health practitioner.