This is a guest post by Dr. Carolyn Bradner Jasik. Based in San Francisco, Dr. Bradner Jasik is a pediatrician and researcher of preventive health and behavior change. She is also a medical advisor at Mango Health, a free smartphone app that helps to manage medications and develop good habits around daily health management. Learn more at mangohealth.com.
In theory, there’s nothing so hard about following instructions for taking your medicine. But in the often-crazy reality of everyday life, it’s pretty easy to forget your medication or do things that compromise its safety and effectiveness. Here are the six important rules to stick with when taking any medication:
1. Check for interactions with other medications, food and drink.
Mixing medications with other meds, herbal supplements and even food and drink can make your treatment less effective, and sometimes these interactions are even dangerous. For example, some antidepressants lessen the effectiveness of prescription heart medications, the supplement St. John’s Wort interacts with multiple drugs (including birth control pills), and even seemingly benign foods like grapefruit and apple juice can make your medications less effective. Always read the interaction information that comes with your medication.
2. Take your medication at a regular time.
If you stick to a set schedule you will be less likely to forget your medication, because taking it will become a habit. Plus, many medications work best when you maintain a steady level in your system, so taking them at regularly spaced intervals will provide the most benefit. The hardest medications for my patients to take are the ones that prevent versus the ones that treat problems—it’s not easy to do something every day that doesn’t change how you feel today. Put your meds near something else you do on a regular basis, like your keys or toothbrush!
3. Ask what to do if you miss a dose.
If you slip up and don’t take a medication on schedule, should you take it as soon as your remember—even if that means taking two at once—or just skip the dose you missed? The right answer varies depending on your condition, so it’s important that you ask one of your healthcare providers rather than guessing or Googling.
4. Don’t cut doses in half.
We get it, prescription drugs can be expensive, but you should never take a half dose to save money. Not only will it make your treatment less effective, it can actually be dangerous.
5. Sign up for automatic refills.
Ask your pharmacy to sign you up for automatic refills of prescription medications, so that your medication will be waiting for you as soon as you need it. Certain pharmacies also offer mail order services, making refilling even easier by delivering meds straight to your home.
6. Track your side effects.
Keep a diary of how your medication makes you feel, as well as any side effects you experience. It can be hard to remember minor changes and symptoms if you don’t write them down, so getting in the habit of keeping a record ensures that you’ll have accurate information to share with your doctor at your next appointment.
How WellnessFX Can Help
If this was interesting to you (and why wouldn’t it be!?) then check out our infographic, “6 Medications that Deplete Your Nutrients: How to Supplement + Foods to Help.”
To check where your biomarker levels are to get an overview of your current health, we recommend a blood test – it’s the best, data-driven way to see if the supplements, medication, and lifestyle changes you’re making are having a positive impact.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.