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Managing Your Meds: What To Be Aware of When Taking Medications

Managing Your Meds: What To Be Aware of When Taking Medications

By Susan Williams

When you start taking a medication, what is the first thing you do? Do you go on the internet and look it up? Or what should you do if you experience a side effect or miss a dose?

Understanding and being actively involved in managing your medications is extremely important.

To help with this, we launched a three part series called Managing Your Meds. In our first segment, we discussed with Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer at Revera, what to be aware of when prescribed a medication. In this segment, Dr. Collins joins us again and we discuss what you should be aware of when taking medications.

Watch: Managing Your Meds Part 1: What To Do When Prescribed A Medication

Here is our conversation.

This information is provided for strictly informational purposes only. You should always consult with your doctor or other healthcare professional regarding your personal situation.

Be Sure to Also Watch the Third Segment of Our Managing Your Med Series

These are some of the highlights of our discussion;

Looking for medication information on the internet

  • When prescribed a medication, many people research the drug on the internet (an estimated 80% of internet users look for health information online according to Pew Research). Dr. Collins provides some suggestions on how to do this safely.
    • There is some good information on the internet however you must be careful in what you read and ensure that it is being provided from a reputable source. Here are some examples of websites that do provide reliable information:
    • When looking for health or medication information, Dr. Collins suggests to try and steer clear from .com websites and to also be cautious of websites with ads. Try to stay with .gov or .org websites, make sure that the articles you are reading are less then three years old and also review the credentials of the authors of any articles. You want doctors, nurses and pharmacists when reading health information – especially when it comes to anything to do with medication.

What you should know and do when taking your medication

  • When taking medication, the first thing you should do is educate yourself about your medication. You really need to know what you are taking and why. You should know the name of it, what the potential side effects are – including the most common side effect along with the most serious side effect so you know what you need to watch out for. You should also know the dosing and the timing for when to take the medication.
  • Always keep an updated list of all your medications and ensure that this list is updated anytime a new medication is added or taken away. This is important as often there may be multiple healthcare providers who may be reviewing and modifying medications so they need to have this information. The list should contain the name of the medication, the dosing and the frequency they are taken.
  • Medications should always be safely stored. Dr. Collins strongly recommends that they should be kept in their original containers with the labels intact unless you are using a pill reminder.

Dealing with side effects

  • Should you experience a mild side effect such as a headache or stomach upset, these reactions are often things that may go away in the first few days. You should speak with the pharmacist or your doctor and determine what the next steps should be. Be sure to always seek immediate medical attention if you have any significant side effect.

Missed dose

  • If a dose is missed, the response is dependent on the type of medication being taken. For some medications that have strict timing requirements, it is best to contact the pharmacist or physician for specific instructions. For many medications, if the missed dose is within two hours, you may be able to take the medication. Much of this is dependent on the frequency of the dose and the time lapsed. Often you can find out more about missed doses on the product monograph for the medication. Alternatively contact your pharmacist or physician for specific details.
  • Dr. Collins recommends holding onto the pamphlet that is usually distributed by the pharmacy when filling a prescription. This information is valuable and will often have information on what to do should someone miss a dose. You can also sometimes find this information on the website of the drug manufacturer in the product information as well.
  •  To help stay current with your dosage schedule, there are some tools available to act as reminders. To help remember to take you medication, try and time it to something that you do on a consistent regular basis. For example when you eat breakfast or before you go to bed at night. As well, blister packs are also available from the pharmacy if you take more than one medication.

Abruptly stopping your medication

  • Just stopping your medication without discussion and guidance with your physician is not recommended. There are often risks associated with just discontinuing a medication and many often need to be tapered down rather than a full stop and if not done properly, there may be a risk of recurrence of symptoms.

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.