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Tips for Taking Medication

It’s easy to forget to take your medication, especially when you take a lot of pills. But, to get the best  results from medications, always take them as directed. The tips on these pages can help you keep track.

Staying on schedule

A man holding a selection of pills in one hand, and a 7-day pill box in the other.
A pill organizer can help you keep track of the medicines you take each day.

Every medication has a different purpose. So, each one needs to be taken as prescribed. Don’t skip pills or stop taking a medication, even when you feel fine. To stay on track try to:

  • Take your medication at set times. You could take it each morning with breakfast  or right before you go to bed. Some medications may need to be taken at certain times of the day, or with food. Ask your doctor if this is the case for any of your medications.

  • Find ways to remind yourself to take medication. Use a pillbox or organize pills for the week. Set your watch alarm to go off when you’re supposed to take your medication. Or, put a note on the bathroom mirror to remind yourself.

  • Have your prescriptions refilled while you still have plenty of pills left. Keep in mind that certain suppliers, such as mail order pharmacies, may take longer to fill prescriptions.

  • When traveling, keep all medications in your carry-on bag. This way you’ll have them in case you and your checked luggage get separated. Also, bring copies of each of your prescriptions when you travel.

Safety tips

Read the warning labels and usage instructions for each medication you take. Also, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Get help organizing your pills if you need it. Taking more than one medication can be confusing. A family member or friend can help prevent you from making a mistake that could be dangerous to your health.

  • Fill all your prescriptions at the same drug store. This way, your records are all in one place.

  • Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a “fact sheet” or other patient information when you start a new medication.

  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you have allergies to any medication.

  • Don’t split your pills to save money. Talk to your doctor if you’re having trouble paying for your medications.

  • Never share medications with anyone.

  • Ask your pharmacy how you should dispose of old or expired medications.

  • Give a copy of your medication list to a family member or close friend. Hold copies of each other’s lists in case of emergency.

  • Store medications in a cool, dry, dark place – not in a steamy bathroom.

If you have side effects

Some medications can cause side effects, such as nausea or dizziness. Tell your doctor if you have any side effects. He or she may change the medication, dosage, or schedule to reduce effects. Be sure to keep taking your medication as directed, and always talk to your health care team about how you feel. Your feedback will help the doctor find the best medication plan for you.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Akin, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith, RN, MSN, FNP, CCRC
Last Review Date: 6/1/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.