Managing Your Medications 24/7

Published: March 25, 2021

Did you know that the length of a typical doctor’s office visit is shrinking? Doctors are now only spending about seven minutes on average with each patient. At the same time, the number of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications people take is growing. That’s why you need to take an active role in helping your healthcare providers identify medication-related problems.

Today, we are living longer with chronic diseases, relying on medications to help us stay well. Some patients—particularly seniors—may take up to 20 medications at the same time to help manage conditions like diabetes, heart failure, or lung disease. This poses a challenge for both the doctor and patient: If the doctor’s clinic visit is only seven minutes long, how can he or she properly assess the 20 medications a person may be taking?

It is important to keep an up-to-date list of all our prescription and OTC medications. If you were recently hospitalized or have seen a doctor, make sure to update any medication changes.

You should also jot down any symptoms you have experienced, when the symptoms occurred (date, time of day, after using which medications?), and a description of the symptoms. Symptoms like stomach aches, headaches, light headedness, falls, diarrhea, confusion, sleepiness, changes in urinary frequency, constipation, and dizziness may be related to a medication you are taking.

Finally, it helps to use a calendar to keep a log of your medication use and how you felt after taking your medicine. The calendar is also a great tool to record blood pressure and blood sugar readings, and weight changes.

Share your list of medications with each doctor who is caring for you and point out any symptoms. The more you can help your healthcare providers understand your day-to-day medication use, the better they can evaluate what is working, what is not working, and what might be harming you.

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