Ask a Pharmacist

Are You Taking Your Medications the Right Way?

Photo of taking medications correctly

Taking your medications as prescribed on long-term basis requires commitment and organization. Taking your medications as indicated by your doctor is extremely important for your continued health. Medications are given to you in the strength that is best suited to treat your medical condition. Here are some general medication facts to help you take your medications safely and effectively.

Medications are not created equalCompare Your Copay - Taking Your Medications the Right Way

Because medications are processed in our bodies differently, pharmaceutical companies sometimes either coat the pills or distribute active ingredients unequally within each pill. Some medications are available in extended-release formulation to be taking less frequently per day compared to those available in immediate-release formulation. Pill splitting may cause certain medications to not be effective by changing the dose, potency, and/or duration of action. Pill splitting is not right for every medication.

Medication or food interactions

Taking your medications with certain vitamins, minerals, dairy products, and/or antacids can also alter how medication absorbed in our bodies. For instance, eating grapefruit can cause cholesterol medications, like Rosuvastatin Calcium (Crestor), to build up in our body. Some herbal products may affect how medication metabolized in our bodies, resulting in higher or lower concentration than prescribed by our doctor. Taking medications as scheduled and as prescribed will improve your overall outcome. Pharmacists can be used for advice on how to take medications, what side effects are normal and possible how to limit some side effects.

Follow the schedule

Not taking medications as scheduled can affect your health outcome and cause side effects. Stopping medications without speaking to your doctor may cause issues as well. Some medications are associated with harmful consequences if suddenly stopped after long-term continuous use. For example, prednisone mimics a natural hormone in our bodies and need to be tapered down to give our bodies enough time to reproduce our natural hormone at the right level. If you take an anti-depressant, like Duloxetine Hcl (Cymbalta), not taking it as scheduled can cause a prickly or tingling sensation on the skin.

Your doctor has a history of what he/ she has put you on, and they need to know if you have stopped anything. Keep follow-up appointments and bring all your medications bottles to all your appointments. If you see more than one doctor, each one needs to know any medication changes to current list to avoid drug duplication and/ or drug-drug interaction. If you have questions, be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

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