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Patient’s Journey from Prescription to Intake

When Michael, aged 65, returned home from the pharmacy with the prescription given by his doctor, he kept all his pill packs on the coffee table and counted them. He found that he had to take 6 different medicines on a daily basis. His wife had been taking 4 medicines everyday. “We need a system to know what these medicines are for, and when they should be taken.” he said to his wife.

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The situation given above is commonly seen in most households. People do not really know what medications they are taking and why they are taking them. Sometimes they do not even know when to take them.

This is why some people take the wrong medicines, while some take the right medicines at the wrong time. All this can lead to side effects and other serious problems.

To avoid this type of situation in your life, you must become an ‘informed’ patient, and be aware about your health as well as about what is going on around you. This article aims to tell you exactly what you need to do when you are getting yourself treated through medications.

Taking the Road from Prescription to Intake Effectively

Though modern medicine has made our lives better than the traditional times, most people take the wrong pills and suffer from their side effects. This problem mostly concerns people over 60 years of age. Some people also suffer due to lack of education and awareness. To deal with such problems effectively, you must take some measures whenever you visit your doctor and your pharmacist, and even when you are at home. Read on and find out about them.

Measures to Take at Home

Before you visit a doctor to consult about your health condition, it is best to know some basic things related to medications and health problems. These include the following.

  1. Find out the difference between capsules, pills, supplements, drugs, tablets, tonics, liquids, creams, or sprays. In general, all of the above can mean ‘medicines’ in simple terminology. However, they are different forms of it, and have different applications as given below:
  2. a. Capsules, pills, tablets, and drugs are bought from a pharmacy with a doctor’s prescript. They are taken to treat a specific health condition, such as malaria, typhoid, jaundice, diarrhea, diphtheria etc.

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    b. Liquids, creams, sprays, and tonics are bought from a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescript. They are also referred to as ‘over-the-counter’ medicines. They are taken to treat any general health condition, such as aches, pains, colds, coughs, indigestion etc.

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    c. Dietary supplements are bought from a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescript. They are taken to improve the health.

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  3. Find out the details about your health condition in advance so that you can have a rough idea about it beforehand.

Measures to Take at the Clinic

When you are consulting your doctor and he is writing a prescription for your ill health, you need to take the following measures.

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  1. Explain your doctor about your health problem precisely so that he gets the exact idea of it.
  2. Remind him about any other chronic health-related issues that you are suffering from.
  3. Tell him if you have started taking any ‘over-the-counter’ medicines on your own in the recent days to cure the problem yourself. This is because certain medicines can cause problems if taken with other medicines.
  4. Let him know about any drugs that you have been prescribed earlier by other doctors for other health issues you are suffering from.
  5. If you had earlier consulted any other physicians to cure this problem, then make sure to inform your present doctor about that too.
  6. Talk to your doctor in case you cannot afford the prescribed pills. He will tell you about the low cost choices or even special programs that can help you to pay their costs.
  7. Make sure to notify your doctor about any allergies that you have with certain medicines. This can be in the form of dizziness, rashes, mood changes, and indigestion.
  8. Ask questions to know about the new medicine that you are been given. It might be helpful to write down the answers immediately on a paper. Some of the general details that you need to enquire about the new medicine from your doctor are – name of the medicine, its purpose, as well as, its dosage details such as, how many times should it be taken in a week/day, and at what times.
  9. Get a clear idea from your doctor about the dosage and method of usage of the prescribed medicine before you start using it.
  10. You must also ask whether these medications must be taken before, with, or after food.
  11. For better and quicker healing, there may be certain foods that you can take. Ask about such foods that you can take.
  12. In some cases, certain drugs cannot be taken with certain foods or drinks. Make sure to enquire about this too.
  13. Most of the drugs show side effects that can range from light to strong. Know about such side effects beforehand. This way, you can either ask for a replacement of the prescribed drug then itself, or get suggestions from the doctor to handle it effectively in other ways so that it does not affect your health negatively.
  14. Do remember to ask your doctor about how you need to proceed if you forget to take your medicines on a particular day.
  15. Lastly, get your doctor’s advice on when you need to stop taking the medicine.

Measures to Take at the Pharmacy

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When you arrive at the pharmacy too, there will be some important last-minute details that you will be required to enquire about. This can be questions about your medicine that you forgot about asking your doctor. Sometimes you may have been confused about something even after enquiring at the the doctor’s office. In such cases, you will still have the option to ask the pharmacist to clear your doubts as the pharmacists have complete knowledge about drugs and diseases, just like doctors. For example, a pharmacist will be able to tell you the details of your medicine, its purpose, when and how to take it, its side effects etc. Apart from asking questions, you should do the following.

  1. Try to get all your prescribed medicines from the same pharmacy so that your pharmacist can guide you at times when you need help, as he will be knowing your health better.
  2. If you are not able to get drugs from just one pharmacy, you must carry your old prescriptions along with you to show the new pharmacist what you have been taking.
  3. Tell the pharmacist if in case you have problem with swallowing pills. Then he may give you liquid medicines.
  4. As soon as you get all your medicines, you must read the name of the medicine as well as understand its directions given on the container.
  5. You must also find out if there are any color-coded warning stickers so that you can get to know about any possible dangers.
  6. Find out whether a tablet that has to be swallowed, still works if it is chewed, crushed or powdered.
  7. If the given medicine is too big in size, ask for a smaller size so that you can use a little and find out whether it suits your health.
  8. If the containers have a different way of opening, learn the proper way of opening them from the pharmacist. You can even ask the pharmacist to open the container and put the medicines in another container that is easier to open.
  9. Get instructions about the storage of medicines. Find out whether it should be kept in a dry place or in the refrigerator.
  10. If you want to get low cost medicines that contain the same active ingredients and show the same effect on your body, ask for generic names of medicines instead of brand names. A generic drug is similar to a brand-name drug in terms of strength, dosage, quality, safety, the way it is taken, the way it works, and the way it has to be used. However, remember that not all medicines are available in the generic form, and sometimes there may be medical reasons because of which your doctor prescribed the brand-name medicine.
  11. Check the label of your medicines before leaving the counter to make sure that you have got the same medicine that is prescribed. If it is not the same, talk to the pharmacist and get it.
  12. In case it is not available at his pharmacy, you can go to other pharmacy and get from there. If the medicine is not available at most drug stores, then you will have to go back to your doctor and ask for a replacement.

Measures to Take After Getting Back at Home

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Now that you have been to both your doctor’s and pharmacist’s place, and returned home, the most important part begins – the dosage and usage of the medicines. Below are some of the things that you need to do for quick, effective and safe recovery from your health condition.

  1. List out all the medicines that you have to take. They must include all the medicines that you have been prescribed now and even earlier (for the chronic problems that you are already suffering from). They must also include dietary supplements and over-the-counter drugs. Now note the other info near each medicine, such as the reason it was prescribed, the amount to be taken, and the time(s) when it is to be taken.
  2. Read and understand the guidelines that come with the medicine. Keep this guideline’s slip safe for later reference.
  3. Take the medicines in the prescribed amount and at the prescribed time.
  4. Keep reminders that will help you remember the time to take your medications. You can use memory aids such as meal times and bedtimes. You can even make use of alarms, calendars, weekly pill boxes, and charts.
  5. Do not skip the prescribed doses of medication. Do not even take half doses.
  6. Take your medicines until they are finished or until your doctor says you to stop.
  7. Avoid mixing medicine and alcohol as some medicines may not work properly or may make you sick if they are taken with alcohol.
  8. Avoid taking the medicines in the dark as you may take the wrong ones.
  9. Avoid taking the medications in front of young children.
  10. Never use medicines that are prescribed to someone else or give yours to another person.
  11. Check the expiry dates on the medicine bottles. Continue its usage if it did not expire.
  12. If a drug has expired, dispose it as suggested on the container or as informed by your pharmacist.
  13. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any discomfort. He may be able to replace the prescription and give you a different one in order to ease your discomfort.
  14. Always make sure to store all the medicines and supplements out of the reach and sight of children.
  15. If you visit any dentist or physical therapist during the course of your dosage, then inform them about your condition and cure.

With all the above points in mind, you can recover from your health condition in a better way. Have a safe and sound health!

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