Do you think taking medicines is an art ? Yes we think so definitely. There are a certain basic steps you should follow so that you can gain maximum benefits from your medicines, particularly when you are having a chronic illness for which you need to take medicines for long period. The first step to learn this skill is to ask questions to your doctor and understand everything about your medicines. If you are put on a medicine for a long term, prepare a check list of questions you need to understand and get back to your doctor with the list. 

Art of Taking Medicines Safely and Effectively covers the following aspects: 

Know your medicines : Get yourself educated about

  • what medicines you need to take
  • why you need the medicine. 
  • how to take the medicinef s
  • how long you need the medicine
  • timing and schedule to follow
  • know if there is any relation to food or drinks
  • know if there is any side effect you should be aware of and if you need to get back to the doctor for that side effect. 
  • know if there is any drug interaction with medicines you are already taking or if you should not be taking any medicine along with this medicine.

Learn how to remember taking medicines regularly. 

  • You can have some reminders set in your clock or you can use some mobile apps. 
  • You can follow a routine that is easy to remember, such as taking medicine immediately before or after your meals (if advised by doctor)

Have back-up plans

  • At least one of your family member should be aware of and should know about your medicines. 
  • Have a written record of all your current medicines at a place accessible by your family members or care takers. 
  • Always have a few days of spare medicines before you get a refill, so that unawailability does not become an issue. 

Never play 'the doctor' : Follow your doctor's instructions and take his advice before making any changes. 

  • Don't stop the medicine because you think or feel that you are now better. Medicines may be needed for the exact time doctor has prescribed to you so that the illness is completely cured or so that it does not relapse. 
  • Don't stop the medicine because you think or feel that it is not effective. Medicine may take time before it's effects are evident. 
  • Don't take someone else's medicines because you think you have similar illness or symptoms. Even for the same illness, different medicines may be required because of the age, sex, co-existing illnesses or other factors. 

Get complete knowledge of potential side effects and interactions: 

  • A very important aspect frequently missed by patients is to get awareness about what are the possible side effects of the medicines. Unless you are aware of the side effect, you will never be able to discover if a problem is because of your illness or your medicine. 
  • You should also know about what interactions can your medicine have with food, can any food item decrease the effect of the medicine or should you avoid some food along with the medicine. 
  • You should be aware about what can be the interaction of the medicine with alcohol or any other drinks you may take. 
  • You should know if while on this medicine you should avoid any other medicine because of any dangerous interaction.
  • Finally you should be aware of when should you contact your physician immediately for a potential side effect. Certain side effects may cause an emergency or may be lethal. 

Particularly important is to have a regular 'Medication Check-up' with the doctor who has prescribed you the medicines, at least once a year. Even if your illness is in control, you need a review of the medicine so that the doctor can know if the medicine is causing any side effects or you now need a decreased dose of medicine or you may now not require the medicine.