by Jennifer Glasco, Pharm.D
Medications are involved in 80 percent of all medical treatments in America. Taking more than one medication on a regular basis is also increasingly common.
If you have multiple prescriptions it can be especially difficult to remember when and how to take each one. Use these suggestions to help you properly manage your medications and your overall health.
Organization and Storage
The best way to organize medications is with a pill container that identifies the days of the week on the front cover. Also be mindful of the following:
- Maintain a personal medication record. This list should include current medications as well as vitamins and pain relievers you take on a regular basis. Bring this list to your doctor appointments and allow your spouse or next of kin to have access in case of an emergency. The Polyclinic recently created a Patient Medication Record that makes it easy to create and update your list of medications.
- Expiration dates. Medications may not work, or not work as well, if used after the expiration date. Old prescriptions should be thrown in the garbage away from pets or children. Depending on where you live some pharmacies will accept old medications to be disposed of properly. For more information on where to find community take-back programs visit Washington’s statewide medicine take-back program website, Take Back Your Meds.
- Traveling If you’re flying, keep your medications in their original bottles so they are easily identifiable by airport security. Place all bottles in a clear plastic bag and keep them easily accessible during your travels. Avoid exposing medications to extreme temperatures; don’t leave them in a hot car for long periods of time, for example.
Medication Interactions and Issues
Many medications do not mix and some drug interactions can have serious health consequences. Your doctor or pharmacist will also be able to discuss potential negative drug interactions with you. If you experience any side effects, or newly developed sensitivities, record the effect and contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Managing your medications is important to your health. By organizing your medicines, keeping an updated medication list, and sharing the list with your health care providers, you’ll help prevent medication errors and maintain good health.