When did I take my last pill? When can I take the next one? I have asked myself these questions countless times when managing my medication. When we rely on certain medicines to stay healthy, it’s important to create a daily routine that will help us remember the right pills at the right time.

Understanding Medications

Before you take any type of medication, it’s important to know what you’re putting in your body and how it can affect your system. Medication can be divided into two categories: prescription and over-the-counter. Doctors prescribe prescription drugs, while over-the-counter drugs don’t need a doctor’s consent. Over-the-counter drugs can include a number of different substances, such as vitamins, minerals, herbal and dietary supplements, laxatives, cold medicines, and antacids. When your doctor prescribes a medication for you, make sure to ask a number of questions, such as what the medication is for, what it is, why you are taking it, how long it will take to work, etc. Inquire about the time of day you should take each pill, and what you can expect while taking it. Remember, you can never ask too many questions.

Entering the Body

There are many different ways that medicine can enter your body. In order to understand the importance of medication safety, you have to understand how the medication works.

When you take a pill by mouth, the pill moves through the digestive tract to the liver, so that the body can process the chemicals. When you get a shot, the medicine passes the liver and enters the bloodstream through the skin. Medicine is carried through the bloodstream in a process called distribution.

Side Effects

Most drugs have various side effects, and it’s important to remember that everyone reacts to medication differently. Side effects occur when a drug has an effect in an organ other than its target. Here is a list of ways to help avoid side effects:

Right Pill at the Right Time

It’s easy to forget what pills you’re supposed to take at what time, especially when you’re taking two or more different types of medications. Here are a few tips to help you stay on schedule:

Ask for a Pharmacist’s Help

Though you should consult your doctor for any questions you have regarding your medications, don’t forget that you can also turn to your pharmacist for help. It’s a good idea to have the same drugstore fill all of your prescriptions because they will keep records of all your medications. That way, if you ever forget what medicines you took in the past, you can ask for your records.

Source:
http://nihseniorhealth.gov/takingmedicines/drugsinthebody/01.html

Melanie Marzillo
Research & Community Education
Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living