Issue 92, March 2006
MANAGING YOUR MEDICINES
Pharmacist, Dispensary First Kilbirnie Pharmacy
Getting the most from your medicine
As we age, many of us find ourselves having to take medicines regularly, for all sorts of conditions.
Managing these medicines can sometimes become complicated or confusing, especially when youíve been prescribed several medicines at different times and by different doctors. This is where your pharmacist can help.
Know about your medicines
When your doctor or specialist prescribes a new medicine, he or she will explain why he is giving the medicine, how it should help you and when to take it.
When your pharmacist dispenses your prescription, he or she will go over key facts about your medicines and answer any questions you may have thought of since your doctorís appointment.
At the time of dispensing the pharmacist will also check to make sure that the new medicine does not interact with anything else you may be currently taking and discuss how the new medicine may affect you. They will explain how the medicine works on the body, possible side effects of the medicine and what to do if you experience side effects.
For example, some medicines make people more sensitive to the skin damaging effect of UV light rays, so these people will require protective clothing and sunscreen when they go outside. Amiodarone, used to treat abnormal heart rhythms is one such medicine.
Your pharmacist can provide written information about medicines and the conditions for which you may be taking them. The leaflets give more information and are often useful in answering questions or concerns you may have. They also give simple guidelines on when and how to take your medicine.
In our pharmacy we make a point of giving our clients written information on their new medicines so that they can read over the information at home, when itís convenient, and in their own tune. We also encourage them to ring us if they think of questions later (as we all do!). If your pharmacist does not give you written information, then do ask them if they have anything available.
Sometimes itís important that a medicine is taken at a certain time or in a certain way. For example, some antibiotics are best taken with food, whilst others are best taken on an empty stomach. Your pharmacist will explain this to you at the time of dispensing your prescription Similarly, most cholesterol lowering medicines are recommended to be taken at night, as this is when they are most effective in reducing the bodyís production of cholesterol.
Laxative granules should he taken with plenty of water so that the medicine is swallowed more easily and doesnít get stuck in the throat.
And donít forget to shake the bottle, if thatís what the instructions say, because that ensures that the active ingredients are evenly distributed each time you take the prescribed amount of medicine.
For medicines to be effective you need to take them regularly as directed by the doctor.
Often it can be hard to remember when to take them, especially if you have to take more than one or two medicines, or when medicines are prescribed to be taken at odd times during the day. Some medicines you may only need to take on some days of each week, or different doses on different days.
Your pharmacist can show you a number of different types of medicine organisers. These vary from simple containers which can be useful if you only take your tablets once a day, to more complex systems which allow for taking several tablets at a number of different times of the day.
Your pharmacist may also suggest that they pack your medicines for you in a ďblister packĒ. These packets contain all the medicines you have to take, and saves you sorting through numerous bottles to put out the right dose at the right time of day. Each dose is packed with the tablets that you should be taking at that time on that day.
Blister packs are ideal for people taking several different medicines at different times of the day. At your request. your pharmacist will pack up your medicines for you into a convenient pack which is labelled with the day of the week, the time of the dose and also all the names of the medicines you take at that time. (An additional fee may apply for a blister packing service).
The blister pack system provides a simple effective way to help you to remember to take your medicines each day. Itís also a very convenient way to take medicines with you or day trips or longer holidays.
Managing your medicines well means that you get the maximum benefit out of the treatment and helps you make the most of every day.
Acknowledgement: Age Concern Regional News Autumn 2005