Many people find it helpful to keep a list of all their medicines for reference. A medicine list can also be a useful way to chart and keep track of your pills. These lists may include the dose, the time and date a pill was taken, and any symptoms you have.
Some people also use a pillbox to keep track. There are daily pillboxes and weekly pillboxes. Though it’s convenient, there are risks with a weekly pillbox.
“I have seen one too many weekly pillboxes pop open. Then it’s hard to accurately identify each medicine and put it back in the correct location." - Ila Saunders, PharmD, BCOP
10 more tips to help you manage your medicines
1. Know their names and what they do
Learn the name of each of your medicines and why your doctor has you take it.
2. Take your medicines exactly as directed
Don’t change or stop taking your medicines without first talking to your doctor, even if you feel better. If you stop taking your medicines suddenly, it can make your condition worse or lead to life-threatening complications.
3. Keep track of how and when to take them
Some medicines need to be taken with food. Others may need to be taken before you eat. Some might need to be taken more than once a day. Whenever you start a new medicine, make sure you understand how and when you should take each dose. Your pharmacist can help you understand how to best to take your medicines.
4. Learn how they might make you feel
When you start taking new medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects. Find out which side effects are common, and which ones could be the warnings signs of an emergency. If you have any concerns about how a medicine is making you feel, contact your transplant team right away.
5. Missed a dose? Know what to do
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out what you should do if you miss a dose, and follow their instructions. For some medicines, if you miss a dose, you can take it as soon as you remember. For others, your doctor might tell you to skip the missed dose. If you miss a dose and aren’t sure what to do, always ask your doctor or pharmacist.
6. Know how to store your medicines
Many people store medicines in their bathroom medicine cabinet, but that’s not the best place for them. Heat and humidity can damage your medicines, so never store them in the bathroom. Look for a cool, dry spot in your home that’s also out of the reach of children. Some medicines need to be stored in the dark or in the refrigerator, so check with your pharmacist about any special storage needs.
7. Be careful with foods, drinks and other medicines
Many medicines interact with certain drugs, including some over-the-counter medicines and herbal therapies. Even grapefruit and grapefruit juice interact with some medicines. Never start any new medicines, supplements or foods without checking with your transplant team first.
8. Get to know your pharmacist
When you’re taking many medicines, going to only one pharmacy can help you stay organized. Get to know the pharmacists at your pharmacy. They can be an excellent resource for you when you have questions about your medicines.
9. Refill your medicines before they run out
Some pharmacies have programs in place to automatically refill your prescription a week or so before it is scheduled to run out. Check with your local pharmacy to see if that’s an option for you. If you use a mail-order program through your insurance company, be sure to allow enough time for shipping. Also, don’t change to a different formulation of a medicine unless your doctor approves. Different formulations (including generic medicines) may act differently in your body.
10. Ask for help if you’re worried you can’t afford your medicines.
If you ever have trouble paying for medicines, let your transplant care team or social worker know right away. There is help available. Some drug companies have patient programs for free or reduced cost medicines. Your transplant center social worker can help you find and apply for grants you may be eligible for, or direct you to the person who can best help you. Learn about financial assistance programs through Be The Match.
Questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist
If you’re not sure what to ask your doctor or pharmacist about your medicines, use the following to get you started:
- Why am I taking this medicine? What is it doing for my health?
- What side effects can I expect?
- Are any side effects warning signs of an emergency?
- What are some of the symptoms I might experience that shouldn’t worry me?
- What should I do if I forget to take a dose?
- How do I store my medicines? Do any need to be stored in the dark or in the refrigerator?
- Do you have any suggestions for helping me keep track of my medicines and the times I must take them?
- Do you have any recommendations on a pill container to help me organize my medicines?
- I’m having trouble paying for my medicines. Are there are resources that can help me?
- Who should I contact if I have more questions?
Still need help?
Contact the Patient Support Center
Call: 1 (888) 999-6743
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Central Time
All of our programs and resources are free.
Contacte al Centro de Apoyo al Paciente
Llame al: 1 (888) 999-6743
De lunes a viernes, de 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Horario central)
Correo electrónico: firstname.lastname@example.org