“The best doctors and medicine in the world can’t save you if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.”
~ Magic Johnson
You might not like taking medications, very few people do, but not taking them can lead to medical problems. Medications fall into three main categories:
Whilst not strictly medications, dietary supplements such as vitamins and fish oils are widely used. Whatever you read about the benefits of supplements but it is important to recognise they have not been tested to pharmaceutical standards. In general, supplements have no deleterious effects on your health as long as you follow the directions on the label, though for any beyond the most widely available, it would be wise to check with a dietitian.
‘Over the Counter’ remedies
These medications are typically taken for the relief of pain or discomfort. They can be very effective as a short term remedy but should not be used to treat long term symptoms without prior consultation with your doctor. As with all medication, read the label before taking.
If you have a symptom, speak to your local pharmacist. They are highly trained and can advise on a suitable medication.
These medicines are prescribed by your doctor and are typically more ‘powerful’ (or expensive) than over the counter medicines and should be taken as prescribed.
Here are five top tips to help your doctors to help you.
- Always take your medications as prescribed. The label will give details of times and special conditions (such as before a meal).
- Always discuss with your doctor any concerns you have about any medications you are taking. It is important to let your doctor know if you have decided, for whatever reason, not to take any of your medications or if you are taking additional over the counter medications.
- If your medications are having any effect (either good or bad) make a note so you can tell your doctor the next time you see them.
- If you are having a strong reaction call an NHS adviser direct on ‘111’ or visit 111.nhs.uk and they will advise you what to do or to call an ambulance if they think it is that urgent.
- If you have difficulty keeping track of your medications ask your pharmacist for your next prescription in blister packs. These are organised so that you pop the right pills out at the right time. There are also electronic pill dispensers that will sound an alarm when you should take your next medication.
The next article in this series explores ‘Managing your weight’.
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