By Richard Gellar
The collection of plastic containers has gathered in the corner of the kitchen counter, some are white, many are orange and others are green. Your eyes scan the yellow-highlighted labels, instructing you to a variety of requirements: “Drink plenty of water;” “Take two pills, three times a day;” “Do not operate heavy machinery;” “Take with food.”
Even though you’ve been on your meds for days, you still double-check your labels every morning. You still stop as the questions begin to run through your head…When was the last time you took your meds? Is this pill daily or as needed? Have I eaten? Do I need to pick up the kids?
This is the scenario that many patients experience. The reality is, as people get prescribed more and more medications, it gets more and more confusing to follow each medication’s guidelines and regimens. There are no age or gender biases with medicine management– anyone can be affected. For this reason, patients need to know their meds and, more importantly, feel comfortable enough with their healthcare providers to ask questions.
Before leaving the pharmacy, it’s important to have a clear understanding of a medication’s instructions. Patients should be counseled on every newly prescribed drug. Some pharmacies, like Long Beach Memorial’s, offer direct phone lines for patients to contact a pharmacist if they ever have any questions, concerns or issues.
Tips to knowing your meds:
• Be knowledgeable of what symptoms the medication is for
• Understand instructions for taking the medication
• Know the side-effects that can result from taking the medication
• Keep in mind the strength of your prescription (i.e., 10 mg)
• Make sure the medicine is the same if it is a refill
Tips for managing multiple meds:
• One of the most important things that you can do is keep a current list of all your prescriptions. Laminate it and carry a wallet-size list with you in case of emergency and for your doctor appointments; this way there is less risk for drug interactions.
• If you have trouble remembering when or if you have taken your pills, a seven-day medication organizer can help.
• Medication charts can help you take your meds on time throughout the day
Never doubt your confusion with your meds. If you don’t understand them, feel effects from taking your medications, or have any concerns, contact your medical provider, or if it’s serious call 9-1-1.
Richard Gellar is the executive director of Long Beach Memorial & Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach Home Care Pharmacy.