Drugs - Treatment adherence is of utmost importance

Treatment adherence is more than taking your pills faithfully. It also involves taking the time to learn more about your disease and taking an active part in your treatment.

Treatment adherence is more than taking your pills faithfully. It also involves taking the time to learn more about your disease and taking an active part in your treatment.

Non-adherence to prescribed therapies is a major health concern. It is estimated that 30 to 50% of all patients who have been prescribed medications by their treating physicians do not take them correctly. There are many factors involved in this dilemma, in which both patients and health professionals play a key role.

Why is it important to take prescription medications? Not taking your medications can have serious and even life-threatening repercussions. For example, patients who have suffered a heart attack but fail to take their prescribed medications adequately dramatically increase their risk of being hospitalized again or even dying.

Numerous diseases such as hypertension or hypercholesterolemia for example, present little or no symptoms. Consequently, because patients do not feel the impact of their disease on a daily basis, it is much easier for them to forget to take a few pills… All the while, the disease is gaining ground.

What should we know before beginning a course of treatment? Your physician has prescribed a new medication? It is essential you learn information regarding your new treatment by asking him or her.

When should I take my medication? Should I take it with or without food? Are you aware of the consequences of leaving the disease untreated? Do you know the purpose of your particular medication? Is it used to help manage symptoms like pain for example, or to cure an illness? You should also ask how long your new treatment is likely to last. Although this question can often be answered with great precision, it may also be more difficult at times. Typically, we know which treatments are long-term ones, such as those for hypertension and cholesterol problems for example, and those that should only last a precise amount of time, such as treatments for infections.

It is also important for you to ask how long it typically takes for your particular medication to become effective. Certain medications only take effect a few weeks after the beginning of a treatment. Consequently, if this fact applies to your medication but you are unaware of it, you risk abandoning the treatment before it even has time to start being effective.

I often forget to take my medications, what should I do? The first thing is to establish the reason you keep forgetting to take your medications. Needless to say for example, that if it is suggested you take the medication with dinner but you are usually out at that time of day, you are more likely to forget. Seek your pharmacist’s advice about any difficulties you may be experiencing, such as how complicated it is for you to take your medication at “such and such” time of day. When it comes to medications, your pharmacist has many solutions up his or her sleeves to solve most of your conundrums.

Is it the right prescription medication for you? Your physician prescribed a new medication and you think you might be experiencing adverse effects? Speak with your pharmacist before you stop taking the medication. He or she can ascertain the medication is actually responsible for these adverse effects. He or she can also give you solutions to help diminish their intensity. Numerous adverse effects only last a short while and will disappear as swiftly as they appeared. Your pharmacist can tell you if this is the case with your particular medication. If need be, he or she can speak with your physician to discuss the problem, and together they will find the best solution to help you.

A few tips to stop forgetting It is sometimes difficult to integrate medications to our very busy schedule. The remedy to this problem is to get organized. Here are a few tips to help you remember to take your medications:


- We all have our little routines… To facilitate taking your medications, make them part of something you do every single day. For example, take your medication with your first glass of water in the morning, or when you brush your teeth before bedtime.


- Leave your medication where you can easily see it. For example, if you take your medication with breakfast, leave it on the kitchen table or right by the coffee maker. However, it is incredibly important to remember to keep all medication out of children’s reach and away from pets, as well as keeping them away from any source of heat and humidity. So, how do you solve this dilemma? Place an empty bottle of your medication on the table and keep the full one in a safe and easily accessible place!


- When you have been prescribed a new medication and you are afraid of forgetting or taking it incorrectly, especially if this medication is to be taken irregularly, your pharmacist can prepare a calendar containing a schedule of days you need to take your medication. You can hang it somewhere in your house where it will be easily visible.


- When needed, you can also use an alarm or an alarm clock to remind you to take your medication at the appropriate time of day.

What should I do if I forget to take a dose? If in spite of taking these precautions you forget to take a dose of your medication, it is important you know what to do. As the consequences are different from one medication to another, you should ask your pharmacist what the best course of action is in your case.

Changing your lifestyle habits: just as important as taking your medications! In addition to taking medications, your physician might also request you change your lifestyle habits. Quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising regularly, relaxing more, eating a healthier diet are all important elements that can slow down the progression of a disease and help you manage it better. Often, these simple steps may allow your physician to decrease the dose of your medication, or perhaps altogether abort your treatment! Although these may not be pharmaceutical measures, you should not dismiss them as they can be a very valuable part of your treatment.

In conclusion Finally, even if you have been taking your medications correctly or incorrectly, you must be honest with the health professionals involved in your treatment. When you do not keep them abreast of the situation, they are liable to think the current course of treatment is ineffective, and opt to change for a more aggressive or more complex therapy. It is also very important you never diminish the dose or abort a treatment with prescribed medication without first speaking with your physician or pharmacist. You should always discuss any issues you may be experiencing with those involved in your treatment. More often than not, there is a solution to your problem.

Lastly, do not dismiss the changes in your lifestyle habits suggested by your physician. They are an integral part of your treatment and could very well allow a reduction in the amount of medications you need. Is this not an excellent motivator?

You still have questions? Seek the advice of your pharmacist! He or she will be more than happy to answer all of your qualms and queries. After all, they are experts!

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