Managing Your Meds

11330123_mlEver get tired of taking your pills? Or maybe you forgot your first pill of the day and just decided to take it with your next set of pills. You are not alone though, doctors estimate that 50% of patients do not adhere to medication prescription 1. No big deal, right? Wrong. There are many maintenance medications that need to be taken at a certain time every day. You might think it’s just a few hours, so what could it hurt? It could hurt a lot. When your doctor tells you that you have to keep some pills separate, take some without food, or that pill needs to be at the exact same time every day, they really mean it. Not only can that chronic condition that you are trying to manage flare up, but those medications might cross indicate with each other causing even more problems.

Late is better than never, but on time is best

demo_weekly@version4If you are taking medication for heart failure, the heart is actually more likely to fail every hour that medication is fading out of your system. Your blood pressure could start to increase every hour, causing your body to suffer from hypertension which also makes you more at risk for other conditions like a stroke. For someone taking thyroid medication, all the symptoms and long term risks are heightened and there is even the risk of coma if going too long without their medication. Medication for the immune system in the case of an autoimmune disease can actually cause a full on autoimmune flare up if the medication that is holding it at bay is skipped long enough. Diabetics also risk coma if they don’t keep on top of their insulin doses. Each late dose is giving the disease a better grip on the body.

One of the most important medications that is difficult to take on time is for Parkinson’s disease because of how many doses it requires per day. Often times it requires a dose to be taken in the middle of the night. A single missed dose can cause hallucinations, freezing, and even changes in personality. The list of symptoms for missed Parkinson’s medication is longer than this entire article, but to keep this short; missing and late medications are very bad. If you want to know what the risks are for your particular situation, give your doctor a call.

There is a method to mixing and not mixing medications

demo_weekly_ver3Some medications have to be taken at different times because they can cause an interaction. That’s why you might be told to take one medication and then a different medication has to be 4 hours after the first. Or maybe you are on heart medication and the doctor said no more of your favorite grapefruit juice. Over the counter medications (OTCs), foods, beverages, and even other prescribed medications can have bad reactions when mixed. The results can range from making your medication less effective (or completely ineffective) to more serious results like bleeding to death and coma. It’s always best to inform your doctor and pharmacist of any prescribed medications, OTCs, or supplements that you are currently take or might consider taking.

References

  1. Sabaté E, editor. , ed. Adherence to Long-Term Therapies: Evidence for Action. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2003. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068890/#R1

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