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Your Health

The right way to take your medicine

Taking medication the way your doctor intended you to is key to getting the most benefit from the drugs you take.

Why it matters

  • When you miss a dose or don't take your medication as it was prescribed, it may not work as well in treating your condition.
  • Even if you don't feel "sick," always take your medication. Many conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, may not have any noticeable symptoms. 
  • Misusing the medication may lead to worsening of your condition or dangerous side effects. Or your doctor may believe that it is not working and add another medication unnecessarily.

Tips to help you

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a written description of how to take your medication.
  • Make sure the directions are clear to you. If you're uncertain, ask questions until you understand exactly how the drug works, what it treats, and how to take it correctly.
  • Always carry a current list of your medications. The list should include the drug name, strength of dosage, how you take it, and what you are taking it for.
  • Ask whether there are other drugs (including over the counter medications) or foods you should not mix with the drug you have been prescribed. For more about that, see this story on food-drug interactions.

Staying on the right track

  • Set a daily routine for taking your medication as prescribed. For example, set an alarm before a meal so you remember to take drugs that should be taken on an empty stomach.
  • Use a calendar and mark off the day after you have taken your medication.
  • Use a medication box that you fill weekly to remind you to take your medications each day.
  • Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you need help organizing your medications.

Learn about saving money by using generic drugs rather than brand name drugs.