The human body is like a machine, subject to constant wear and tear. This is why as we get older, we need help to keep our hearts healthy, our joints durable, our cholesterol in check, and our bones protected against fracture.
This, as you probably already know, can be a complicated maintenance task. We may have to take numerous pills with names that are rather impossible to pronounce, let alone remember.
As a result, drawing up a list or putting clear and visible labels in pill containers can help keep things organized. This becomes critical when we go for our doctor”s visits, because one of the first questions a patient is going to be asked is: what medications are you taking? Your doctor will want to know if any medications them could be “contradicting” each other (not getting along).
Be Aware of your Medication
People are thus encouraged to play an active role in their own health care and wellness, and that”s why it”s key to tell a doctor about all medications right off the bat. If you”ve been diagnosed with a new condition and you need to take another set of prescribed medicines for that condition, you”ll need to inform your doctor – better yet make a list – of all drugs you are taking, for how long, and if you have experienced any adverse effects. This list should include any natural remedies that you”re taking, including homeopathic and naturopathic remedies.
If the symptoms of a particular condition or illness have not improved from the prescribed drugs you are taking, and you believe that changing medications may help alleviate your symptoms, this is another instance where you”ll need to tell your doctor. Indeed, while there is a lot of good information on the Internet and elsewhere, don”t play “doctor” with yourself and start experimenting.
Must Tell Situations
A “must tell” situation is when you know you will be undergoing surgery. Collect all your medicines, make a list, note the dosage, frequency, and length of prescription (i.e. how long you”ve been taking the medication). It”s essential that every member of your surgical team – from the surgeon to the nurse to the anesthesiologist – have this information, because it can influence whether the surgery is successful and effective.
Don”t be Shy…
Even without any of the “must tell” situations above requiring you to advise your doctor about your medications, ask him/her to check them at least once a year. Who knows? One of the drugs you”re taking may be at the center of a new controversy in the pharmaceutical world. There might also be recent documented cases showing that higher doses of the drug can prove harmful for patients suffering from a particular illness, or vice versa.
Guidelines for Talking with your Doctor
When talking to your doctor about medications, these guidelines may be useful:
• if he/she writes out a prescription, ask to know about any documented side effects. Studies have shown that when patients are told in advance of what side effects they can expect, they usually handle them better or are less concerned about them.
• if you”re taking natural supplements, vitamins and herbal preparations, your doctor will need to know this, so he/she can adjust his prescription.
Remember: don”t wait for a medical error to happen! Don”t be a statistic! Be clear and thorough about what drugs you are taking, and keep an open dialogue with all of your healthcare professionals (including your pharmacist!).