Health Advocate Blog

Manage your medications to manage your chronic condition

If you are being treated for diabetes, hypertension, asthma or another chronic condition, chances are that getting a new prescription can leave you with many questions about how it’s supposed to help you, how you should take it, and more. Getting clarification from your doctor is an important first step to get the most benefit from your medications so they can help you better manage your condition.

Follow these simple tips:

Pose these questions to your doctor.

  • How is the drug expected to help?
  • How long will I need to take it?
  • What dose do I take and when should I take it (for example, two pills twice a day – does this mean one pill in the morning and one at night? Or two pills taken one time each day?)
  • Do I take it with or without food?
  • Are there any side effects? Are there any interactions with my other medications or supplements?
  • What should I do if I skip a dose?
  • Is there a generic version of this medication?

Be mindful of refills. Know when you are coming close to needing a refill to ensure that you have enough medication to cover the time you will wait until your prescription is ready.

Travel tip: make sure you have enough medication on hand to last the duration of your trip.

Make sure your filled prescription matches what your doctor ordered. Be sure to read the label and any instructions included with the medication.

Stick to your schedule! It can be helpful to keep a log or journal of when you take your medications to ensure you don’t forget or take too much—or too little.

Use reminder aids like marking off on a calendar each time you take your medication. Or use pill boxes with days-of-the-week compartments that you can fill with your pills every Sunday for the upcoming week.

Keep a list of your medications handy. For each medication you are prescribed, include the name with exact spelling, dosage, how often you take it and when you take it. This is beneficial if you’re prescribed medications from different doctors as well as if you’re ever in an emergency situation. Include your pharmacy number, too. And be sure to take the list with you when you travel!

Find out if you can take a generic version. You’ll save more money than taking a brand-name medication. For further cost-savings, find out if your health plan offers a mail-order prescription plan – you can get a three-month supply of your maintenance medication, which can save you money as well as trips to the drugstore.