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Keeping track of your medications

If you take medication, it is important to use them exactly as prescribed. Otherwise, they may not be doing their job. Here are a few tips that will help you organize your medicines:

  • Keep a card in your wallet with the name of your medicines and the prescribed dose. Change the information on this card regularly as your medications change. The list is only as good as the information on it. This is your personal medication record.
  • If you know what the medication is supposed to do, that will help you to understand why and when you have to take it. Ask the pharmacist or the nurse in your doctor's office to explain what the medication is designed to do for you. You don't have to remember all the details.
  • You should know these important facts about each medicine that you take: name of the medication, how often to take it, how long to take it, the specific time of day to take it, if it should be taken on an empty stomach or with food.
  • Find out if there are any reactions or side effects you might experience and what to do if they occur.
  • Be sure to refill your prescription before it runs out.
  • Find out what to do if you miss a dose.
  • Learn how to store medications. Some need to be kept out of cold or heat -- others need to be refrigerated.
  • Keep your medications in a weekly pillbox with separate compartments for each day of the week and different times of the day. You can set this up once a week. These pillboxes will help you take all your medications on schedule and you will know if you skipped a dose. Get help with setting this up if you need to.
  • Try to take your medications at the same time of the day so it becomes part of your routine, like brushing your teeth.
  • Throw away old or outdated medications.
  • NEVER lend your medicines to anyone else, like friends or relatives.

If you find that you are regularly missing a dose or just don't feel confident that you are doing things correctly, ask at your doctor's office for help. Perhaps, the prescriptions can be changed to help you do better.


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Review Date: 7/8/2012
Reviewed By: Nancy J. Rennert, MD, Chief of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Norwalk Hospital, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Previoulsy reviewed by Ari S. Eckman, MD, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. (5/13/2010)
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