5 Medication Reminder Tips to Get the Pain Relief You Need

Whether you take OTC medications or prescription drugs, it’s crucial that you adhere to the timing and dosage your doctor outlined. Read on for expert tips. 

medication reminder tipsIt's important to remember to take medication as prescribed. Every 12 hours does not mean at breakfast and dinner since those meals aren't necessarily 12 hours apart. A number of painful conditions and chronic health problems like hypertension and diabetes, can be successfully managed with medication but unless it is taken as prescribed, the full health benefits won’t be realized. As former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once famously said, “Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.”

Blame it on lack of organization, a difficult-to-follow prescription regimen, having multiple physicians involved in care or communication gone askew during limited office visit time, but many find the task of managing multiple medications to be challenging. In fact, in a recent analysis of medication compliance rates—conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO)—50% of patients admit to not taking their meds as prescribed.

Why Compliance Matters

It’s important to recognize that taking medicines in the wrong amount or at the wrong time of day can prove disastrous. Shaheda Quraishi, MD, attending physiatrist at Northwell Health’s Pain Center in Great Neck, New York, explains how this occurs.

“Many types of pain tend to be episodic,” she says. “Doctors may prescribe a medication to be taken ‘as needed’ but a patient might interpret this to mean that it’s okay to skip one dose but then take a double dose later.” This can have unwanted consequences.

For instance, if opioids are not taken properly, your body can develop a tolerance, and the medication becomes ineffective. “Then you need to increase the dose to get the same amount of pain relief,” Dr. Quraishi says.

MedCenter Medication Reminder SystemThe MedCenter medication system organizes your medication by date, rather than day of the week. You can also set a dose reminder alarm.Another problem with opioids is the potential for an accidental overdose. Over the last decade, public health advocates and many clinicians have become increasingly concerned about the rising rates of opioid prescriptions primarily because of potential adverse reactions, substance abuse, and more.1

The danger of overdosing is real. Never double the dose of an opioid.

Underuse is a problem, too. Underusing a medication may undermine the positive effects of treatment and result in hoarding medicine or adding in other drugs that might be thought of as less risky. Underuse occurs for a variety of reasons, such as the desire to take less medicine in general, concerns about addiction, and poor doctor-patient communication. 2 Other reasons for underdosing on medication include the cost of the medication, a perceived medication ineffectiveness, and pressure from family and friends. 3

Medication Reminder Tips

To ensure you receive the pain relief you need, take your medication as prescribed. Here, some expert tips to help you comply.

  1. Make a medication reminder chart. List each medicine and the time that you are supposed to take it. Leave a space so that you can check it off when you take it to help you keep track. You can do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper or check out online resources that can be printed out on your home printer.5 If you or a loved one take multiple medications, Script Your Future has a pdf with instructions for making a comprehensive pill card. Download here.
  2. Consider purchasing a device that will help you remember your dose. The MedCenter System has a “date” rather than a “day of the week” marking that helps you take your medication (or vitamins) on time. The plastic device enables you to load the entire month’s medication into the 31 daily pill boxes. With this system, you also can set up to four daily alarms to alert you when your medication is due.  Check it out here.
  3. Pay close attention to what the dose stipulates.If you are supposed to take a medication twice a day, that means 12 hours apart. “That does not mean take it at breakfast and dinner, since the time is different for everyone and may not be 12 hours apart,” Dr. Quraishi explains.
  4. Time your once per day medications to a daily activity you are less likely to forget.  Feeding your pet, for example.4
  5. Store your medications together so they are easy to access but be sure they are kept out of reach of children. Recent studies have found alarming increases in both the treatment of young children in hospitals due to accidental opioid poisoning and teenagers dying from opioid overdoses. It's more important than ever to be mindful of your medicaiton. Young children can open pill bottles not safely locked into place and may be  attracted to colorful medication thinking it's candy. If you have teenagers in the house, store opioids in a home safe to discourage diversion. (For additional medication safety tips, click here.)
Updated on: 04/25/17
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