Minimize Prescription Side-Effects

June 12, 2014

Woman With PillMedicine is great, but most people rely on them a little too heavily. There is no magic pill that will instantly make you better, but people demand antibiotics for their viral infections anyway (which it won’t cure).

The trick is to work with your doctor to optimize your medications. Different people absorb medication differently, or react differently. So much so that drug misuse becomes a top problem as we age—and doctors even contribute to the problem by overprescribing to seniors. Here are some talking points to bring up with your doctor:

-As you age, many people require a lower dose. Make sure to re-evaluate dosages of long term medications yearly to minimize possible side-effects.

-You are also at a greater risk for side effects, both because you’re more likely to be taking more drugs, and because absorption (and elimination) will change.

-Bring lists of all your diagnoses and treatments (and any vitamins) to any doctor or specialist you see. No one will keep better track of your medical information than you.

Then, make sure you optimize your medication:

-Write out when and how to take all your medications, then make sure you follow it. This can include times, how much, whether you need to eat, not eat, drink a full glass of water (or milk), and how long to take the medication.

Between 40-70% of older adults are taking their medication wrong.

You might consider a digital schedule with built in alarms.

-If you need over-the-counter medication, ask the pharmacist about drug interactions, and select a product that will only cover the symptoms you have.

-Familiarize yourself with what each pill looks like, and don’t take pills in the dark.

-Only keep pills outside of the original labelled containers if you’re going to use a pill organizer.

-If you’re travelling, sit down and figure out time changes before hand. An independent digital timer can really be useful.

-Keep a journal—write down any new symptoms and when (day, time) they occur. This can help your doctor figure out which medication may be causing them.

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