Ensuring medication safety is an important part of pain management. Missing your dose of medication can exacerbate and cause you to take more medication later on. Mixing medications with supplements or other medications can lead to unwanted side effects and safety issues. Here’s what you need to know to ensure you take your medications thoughtfully and safely.
Make reminders to take medication
For some patients, forgetting pain medications can be more than just a nuisance. Some conditions require regular medications to control symptoms and allow individuals to live their lives as normally as possible. For example, some teenagers with chronic illnesses sometimes have trouble taking their medications regularly not just because they are forgetful, but because they want to feel normal and healthy like their friends. This can cause long-term consequences for their conditions. Adults forget their medications as well, sometimes it is because they can be too busy to remember or they may be getting more forgetful with age.
If you have ever had trouble trying to remember your pain medications, you know this can be a problem.
According to this report from Consumer Reports, the problem of adults not taking medications or forgetting doses is currently being referred to as the nation’s “other drug problem.” While Consumer Reports indicates that there are no official statistics for this epidemic, it appears that approximately 45-55% of adults who fill prescriptions stop taking their medications before they are supposed to.
Various studies have shown that patients dealing with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, chronic pain, and mental health conditions frequently stop taking their medications.
Why people forget medications
There are a variety of reasons for forgetting medications.
Some patients simply forget doses which can affect the effectiveness of the medication overall. Others can’t afford to fill their prescriptions as often as they should. This causes them to self-medicate with different doses than their doctor prescribed. Some patients didn’t feel they needed the medication, they didn’t think it was helping, or they stopped having symptoms. Occasionally patients felt the medication made them feel worse than the condition itself.
How to remember your medications
If forgetfulness is the primary problem, there are multiple methods that you can try to do at home to remember your pain medications and take the right dose at the right time. You can:
- Use a paper calendar in a place where you will see it every day
- Use visual reminders such as placing the pain medication near something else you frequently use
- Make it a habit by taking the medication at the same time each day
- Use sticky notes around your house to remind you
- Keep medications that need to be taken with food near the space where you prepare meals
- Add the medication to your To-Do list
- Set your alarm clock
- Sort your medication using a daily pill box
In today’s increasingly connected culture where smart phones and digital media are more prevalent than ever, remembering medications may be right at your fingertips. 58% of adults in the United States own a smart phone. These hand-held devices can provide access to applications that can help individuals remember their medications on a regular basis. The easiest way may be to simply set a reminder alarm on your calendar daily so you receive an alert, like a text, whenever you need to remember your pain medications.
Apps to remember medications
However, there are several apps available that can help you remember medications. These include:
- MedCoach: Available on iTunes and free for Apple devices, this application not only reminds you to take your pain medications on time throughout the day, but can also connect to your pharmacy so you don’t forget to refill a prescription before it is too late.
- MediSafe: If you use an Android device, there is a similar app available in the Google Play store. This visual app is easy to use and can sync with other devices in your household so everyone in your family can better remember their medication management.
- DoseCast: Available for both platforms, this medication management solution can help you customize your own medication management and remind you when the prescription has nearly run out.
Another app, GetMyRx, is not only helping patients remember their pain medications and other drugs but also completely eliminates the need to go to the pharmacy to refill prescriptions. GetMyRx charges a fee to the pharmacies to be able to use its revolutionary cloud based technology, which can allow the app to remain free for patients. GetMyRx is currently available in the Apple Store for iOS devices and the Google Play Store for Android. Patients across 35 states have access to this app.
MedCity News reports that a Harvard University Study surveyed 280,000 patients only to discover that 1 in 3 adults who are provided with a new prescription never even go to the pharmacy to fill it. This phenomenon is referred to as “prescription leakage” and is a key factor in the medication non-adherence problem currently cited by Consumer Reports. By not filling prescriptions, these patients are causing $290 billion dollars in medical spending that could be avoided.
Patients need to know that it is not a weakness to use tools to remember to take pain medications or other prescription drugs.
Apps like GetMyRx and easy to use reminders at home can help maintain the right medical care for a variety of chronic conditions. Whether you are dealing with lower back pain, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, knee pain, migraine headaches, or a variety of other conditions that cause chronic pain, methods to remember your pain medications do not have to be overly intrusive.
Avoid mixing medications and supplements
Natural supplements and vitamins can provide many health and pain management benefits for the body, from vitamins to coenzyme Q10. These benefits are gained only when these supplements are used effectively and with full thought, though. Moreso, users must thoroughly research these natural supplements, as there is no government oversight on their ingredients or claims.
Mixing medications and natural supplements can produce dangerous effects if the products interact harmfully.
All medications and supplements are used based on their ability to have a therapeutic effect on the body. When there’s an effect on the body, however, there’s also a chance of the compound having an unwanted reaction. 20% of people in the U.S. take supplements daily. There is a great need for the public to be aware of the risks of mixing medications with these supplements.
Medications with dangerous interactions
Common medications and supplements that can have dangerous interactions include:
- St. John’s Wort and antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, as mixing these can cause serotonin syndrome, a sometimes fatal condition
- Antihypertensive drugs and dong quai, an herb used for menstrual problems, that can cause cardiovascular problems when used together
- Antibiotics can alter the effects of oral contraceptives
- Natural supplements like garlic, ginkgo biloba, ginger, and saw palmetto supplements can cause an increased of bleeding
- Echinacea taken with drugs like Lipitor, Celebrex, and Aleve can lead to liver damage
How to avoid dangers
The best advice is to always consult with your doctor before taking natural supplements or vitamins. Discuss any daily vitamins, natural or fitness supplements, and energy drinks or foods with added supplements. Always tell your doctor all of the natural supplements and vitamins you are using before he or she prescribes a medication.
Additionally, stick to the prescribed length of use and dosage for medications. Too much of a drug or a shortened timeline can also adversely affect health.
Natural herbs and supplements are a great option for many individuals, but users should be careful about their use and discuss any new products with their doctor or other healthcare practitioner. Even something that seems relatively safe could bring about large problems if taken with the wrong medication.
What other tips do you have for medication safety? If you’re looking for a pain specialist, click the button below to find one in your area.