When a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist asks you if you are taking your medications for a chronic (long-lasting) condition, it’s important that you answer honestly. That’s because we need to know if you have enough medication in your body to work effectively. Over the years, I’ve found that many patients tell me they are regularly taking their medicines. But if I take a blood pressure or test blood sugar levels—and find them to be high—my patients sometimes admit they haven’t been taking their medicines exactly as prescribed.
The problem is this: If your health care providers don’t know exactly what’s going on, we might prescribe unnecessary medications for you. For example, if you miss more than two doses of a blood pressure medication in a week, your blood pressure could be higher than it would be if you had taken your medication every day. Your doctor then could think that your medicine isn’t working, and could prescribe either more of the same or another medication. The result? You end up taking too much medication.
So, don’t forget to let us know if you have missed one or more doses of your medicine. Also, if you are having any trouble taking your medicine (for example, it is upsetting your stomach or is too expensive for you), be sure to let us know that, too. We often can find a better, or less-expensive, alternative. Honesty really is the best policy when working with your health care team—we are here to help you get the most out of the medicines you take!
Gina Ryan, PharmD, BPCS, CDE, Clinical Associate Professor, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Mercer University, Atlanta