Health Tips / Managing Your Medications / Tips for Taking Medications as Prescribed

Tips for Taking Medications as Prescribed

Now that you know how vital it is to take your medications as prescribed, it’s time to learn how. Here are some practical tips that will help you take the right medications in the right amount at the right time.

Safety first

  • Take exactly the dose prescribed. Do not take more because you think it is not working. Taking too much medication is dangerous. It can even put your life at risk. Do not take less because you have side effects or are trying to save money. Instead, tell your doctor about your concerns. 
  • If you have side effects that seem to be too much, call your doctor. They will tell you whether you need to take less or stop taking the medication.  
  • If you use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, tell your doctor. All of these can affect how medications work. Your doctor will tell you if there could be negative drug interactions. Never share your medications with anyone. Also do not take medications that are prescribed to someone else. 
  • Keep your medications away from young children. Try not to take them in front of children because they may want to copy you. If you do, never refer to medications as “candy” because that will make kids want to take them. If you live with young children or have them visit, put them someplace where kids cannot reach them. 

Know your medications

To take your medications correctly and safely, you must know how much to take and when. However, there are many other details you need to know about possible side effects, storage and more. Ask your prescribing doctor or pharmacist any questions you have about your medications. View a list of common questions that will help you get the answers you need.

Take your medications on time

  • Write down when you need to take your medications. Include how many times a day and the exact times.
  • Use alarms as reminders. You can set alarms on your smartphone or computer. You can also buy a pill box with a built-in timer. Or just set an alarm clock.
  • Use daily tasks as reminders. For example, take your medications right after a meal or before brushing your teeth.

Get and stay organized

  • Make a list of all the medications you take. Include over-the-counter medications, vitamins and dietary supplements. Write down the dosages and times you need to take each one. Also write down the doctor who prescribed it, the reason you take it and the expiration date. Store the list on your smartphone or computer for safe-keeping and easy editing. Also print it out so you can look at it when you need to. Show it to your doctors when you have visits.
  • Get a pill organizer. Most have compartments marked with the day of the week. That helps you organize all your medications for the week ahead. Using a pill organizer also helps you know whether you have already taken your dose. If you take more than one medication, be sure you take the right one at the right time. Some organizers have compartments for time of day (morning, afternoon or night).
  • Keep a calendar next to your medications and mark down each time you take your dose. That will help make sure you don’t skip a dose or take more than you are supposed to.
  • If you go on a trip, be sure to bring extra medication with you in case your return home is delayed. If you take a plane, keep your medications in your carry-on bag. Then you will still have them even if your luggage is lost. Also, temperature extremes in the cargo hold could affect your medications.

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