Are You Missing Pieces to Your Puzzle of Medicines?

Are You Missing Pieces to Your Puzzle of Medicines?

Do you find yourself planning your daily activities around when you have to take your medicines?

Do you know what time of the day it is by the medicine you take?

Do you need a personal planner to help you keep tabs on what medicines you take and why you are taking them?

If you or someone you know can answer yes to any of these questions, then the following information is for you. If you have to take several medicines, keeping track of when to take them can be overwhelming, stressful and confusing. On top of this, you also need to know how to prevent and handle possible side effects. It is not as hard as it may sound for you to take the steps needed so that you can take your medicines correctly and safely. Giving your time and attention to your health will help you become the most valuable person in managing it.

Using two or more medicines at the same time is usually seen in patients with common illnesses. These illnesses can sometimes develop quickly and without warning signs. You can go from having a clean bill of health one month to having high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or even high cholesterol the next. Your illness most likely will be treated with medicines. Sometimes, you may find out that you not only have one, but two illnesses. This, of course, leads to more medicine. The cycle continues until you find yourself taking four or more medicines a day, visiting a pharmacy and doctor’s office more times than you ever wanted, and remembering the days when you didn’t have to take any medicine other than a vitamin.

If you are taking several medicines, you are at a very high risk of having drug interactions, side effects and further health problems. There is a lot of information you need to know about a medicine. When you are given a prescription to take a medicine, you are given the responsibility of knowing all you can about that medicine and how it will affect you. So, what do you need to do when you have to take two, three, even six medicines? Well, a lot of people today would answer that with more questions: “Isn’t it up to the doctor to tell me everything I need to know about my medicines? That is why I pay them the big bucks, isn’t it?” The reply is common, but not completely true. The steps to handle your medicines require efforts by more than only the doctor or a pharmacist.

Understanding and handling medicines is like putting together a puzzle. This puzzle only has three pieces. Without these pieces, the puzzle does not come together to form a clear picture. The pieces end up without a purpose. The three pieces of this puzzle are the patient, the doctor, and the pharmacist. No one piece can do its part to fit all the pieces together without the help of the other. That is where YOU become the most important piece of the puzzle.

It is up to you to:

  • let the doctors and pharmacists know what is going on with your health.
  • know what medicines you are taking, including ANYTHING you may purchase without a prescription
  • talk to the doctor about the way you feel, how the medicine is working for you, and if you are seeing another doctor for any reason.

Doctors and pharmacists can help you even more when you help yourself. You must be willing to ask your doctor and pharmacist for information whenever you have questions. This is the only way you can make intelligent and reasonable decisions when it comes to your health.

You should know why:

  • you should take your medicines
  • you should set goals that you can react
  • it is important for you to be active in learning and keeping up to date with changes in your medicine.

Many people take a number of medicines every day. This amount increases as people become older and develop more illnesses. You must remember that you are not alone. You have to take control and get as much information as you can. Do this as many times as you have to. Ask your doctor and pharmacist to follow your progress and teach you how to watch for changes in your health and possible side effects. Take charge of your health and use the services of the healthcare community. You are the key piece in putting together your puzzle of medicines. If you stick to it, this will be one puzzle that you will never regret working on.

By Janet L. Gaito, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate, 2003 Nesbitt School of Pharmacy, Wilkes University Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

© 2002 Consumer Health Information Corporation. All rights reserved.

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