Actively participate in your treatment. Active participation means learning about your condition and the therapies used for treating it. It also means following instructions, asking questions, and communicating any challenges. It is not possible for your health care providers to teach you everything about your condition. Take advantage of free classes offered in your community, local library, and use reputable sources on the web to gather information. Own your health.
Take your medications as prescribed. Not taking medications as directed (noncompliance) is the major reason why most drug treatments fail. For drugs to work as intended a specific dose is administered in a specific way for a certain duration of time. Take too little and the treatment does not work, take too much and more side effects occur, take it the wrong way and the drug does not work.
Know the expected side effects of the drug. It is helpful to know which side effects are common, their severity, how long the side effects last, and when to seek help. Some side effects wane after receiving the drug for a certain length of time. Therefore, stopping the drug prematurely because of short-term side effects is not beneficial. Some side effects may be avoided or minimized by taking the drug a certain way or using other medications to counteract the side effect. Knowing the signs and symptoms of serious adverse effects will help you avoid serious complications by contacting your healthcare provider as soon as you suspect that you may be developing a serious side effect.
Schedule follow up appointments for your healthcare provider to evaluate the drug treatment and make any adjustments based on your response. Many drugs are started at a low dose then gradually increased to the effective dose. Other drugs may require periodic monitoring of blood levels to check for adverse effects or to help fine tune the dose. A good practice is to schedule the follow up appointment or lab test before you the leave the clinic. Set a reminder in your calendar that you have an appointment and make it a priority.
If possible always use the same pharmacy to fill your prescription so that your prescription record is kept in one place and the pharmacist can advise you if there are drug interactions between your medications. Unfortunately, this is not always possible because using the pharmacy that has the lowest price can save on drug costs. In this situation consider the services of a personal pharmacist; keep an up to date list of which drugs your are taking, what they are prescribed for and directions; and let all your health care providers know about the drugs you are taking.
Discard drugs that you are no longer taking unless told otherwise by your health care provider. This will avoid confusion.
Keep an up to date list of which prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements your are taking. Document what they are prescribed for, directions for administration, and let all your health care providers know about the drugs you are taking. Smart phones and computers are great tools for tracking your medications. There are smart phone apps for tracking medications.
Know which therapies have been scientifically proven to work for your condition and how well they work. Your health care providers are not trying to push drugs on you. The herbal supplement that you think is helping your condition may actually not be good for you and in many instances has no proven benefit and may interact with your prescribed drugs.
If a condition can be improved, prevented, or reversed with diet and exercise then start embracing lifestyle changes. Diet and exercise cost less than medications and do not have nasty side effects. For conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, exercise and proper diet can make a big difference.
Do you have a personal pharmacist? If not you should consider hiring a personal pharmacist to help you manage your medication therapy.
You can comment on this article by joining the RxEconsult community.
Please Share on Your Social Networks
This medication summary is for information only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.