If you or a loved one is facing an illness or condition and has been prescribed medication, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the task of handling medication. Multiple medications only increase your responsibility, as potential side effects become more drastic. Learning medication management is a pragmatic way to embrace treatment and move towards a more pain-free and worry-free lifestyle.
What is medication management?
Medication management is the practice of regularly taking prescription medications according to a doctor’s recommendations. It sounds simple, but managing medication requires organization, timeliness and support from medical professionals.
Often, medication regimes require more specific instructions than simply taking a pill. Factors like time of day and concurrent medications can drastically change the effect a specific drug has. Moreover, taking medications is complicated by multiple diseases or chronic conditions, which require more medicine to be taken. Improper consumption of medication can be dangerous, so make sure to consult your doctor for the most effective medication management plan.
Here are 6 medication management tips to help you simplify your routine and find freedom from negative symptoms.
- Stick to your exact schedule
The best way to know if your medication is helping is to strictly observe the times designated in your plan for taking medication. Although side effects and benefits of different prescriptions might be harder to identify at first, given time you will have a clear idea of how your medication affects you if you consume it at the same time every day.
When you’re faithful to a schedule, you’ll be able to gauge whether a medication is effective in addressing what it is intending to alleviate. Taking care to adhere to your schedule will give you valuable information to take back to your doctor, so you can talk about continuing with the medication or trying alternatives.
- Write down your experiences with the medications
Sticking to your schedule will give you valuable information about how medication is affecting you. Once you have that information, make sure you take note of anything that feels significant. It can be hard to remember how you felt two days ago, let alone a month ago when you were transitioning to a new medication. Keep a record of how your medication is making you feel, to use a reference.
Among other items, note the following experiences in conjunction with medication management:
- Sleep patterns
- Mood changes
- Note the mood: apathetic, angry, sensitive, etc.
- Appetite changes
- Skin condition (rashes, itching)
- Cold-like symptoms
- Running nose, coughing, etc.
- Changes in body temperature
Of course, you’ll also look for side effects that directly relate to the medication. Ask yourself: is my condition improving?
Remember to write down what time of day you experience significant symptoms. It could be helpful to have a planner where you can write these notes throughout the day.
Finding the best medication that works for you is a process. The first medication management plan you have isn’t necessarily the one that you’ll stick with forever. Many conditions have multiple options for medication, and you should feel empowered to leave behind medications that aren’t effective or have side effects that don’t justify the benefits.
Listen to your body and pay attention to your moods. Too often we dismiss emotional manifestations as separate from our bodily functioning. If your mood feels off, it might very well be due to an increase in stress or a challenging life event, but the medicine could also be to blame.
- Differentiate between bad side effects and bearable ones
The United States Food and Drug Administration identifies several reasons why people react differently to certain medications: a person’s age, gender, allergies, the body’s ability to absorb the medicine and other substances in the body all play roles in medicinal acceptance. All of these factors contribute to how you’ll feel when you start taking a new prescription.
In the process of finding the best treatment for you, you’ll want to weigh the impact of your condition with the impact of your medication. Which side effects are bearable, and which are not worth the benefits? This will differ for each person, and ultimately the decision is one you should be comfortable with. Sometimes side effects are inevitable, but often they can be mitigated by changing the dosage or switching to an alternative drug.
- Use an app or device designed to help with medication management
There are many options to help with medication management, and making use of available technology may be your best route. Although you can enlist a friend or family member to help, at the end of the day we’re all human and bound to forget every now and then.
There are numerous apps and devices designed specifically for medication management. Check out Healthline’s article for an overview of the best apps. If you’re looking for a device, the Hero automatic pill dispenser will allocate each medication dosage at the correct time of day with audible reminders and alarms.
- Consult with your doctor before making any changes
Handling medication management should never be done on your own. Do not decide for yourself to adjust a schedule of drugs. A bad combination or sudden change in medication could result in hospitalization, permanent injury or even death.
Use the expertise of the professionals on your team to help make the best decisions for your mental and physical health. You are the expert on your body, but you’re likely not an expert on the drugs you’re putting into it. Collaborating with your providers is essential to living a comfortable and enjoyable life when faced with illnesses and conditions.
Following these medication management tips requires a sacrifice of time as you learn and adjust to your new routine, but the effects will benefit your overall health tremendously. You deserve to feel a greater peace of mind through medication management.
Managing medication is never a journey you should take alone. The Light Program offers outpatient treatment for mental health concerns both online and in-person, and our team of professionals will help you to learn how to manage medications effectively. Reach out to The Light Program today or call (610) 644-6464 to set up an appointment.