Before you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have been taking a small number of medications, or perhaps, none at all. Now, it is possible you have been prescribed several different drugs, and you may be taking over-the-counter medications as well. Wiath the added stress of disease or treatment-related symptoms, it can be easy to confuse medications or simply to inadvertently miss taking a dose. Following are some easy ways to help organize and manage your medications:
- Compile a complete list of all drugs you are taking, including both their brand and generic names (i.e., Tylenol = acetaminophen), the dosage amount, times they are to be taken and any additional instructions (i.e., take with food, take before bedtime, etc.). This list should include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as any herbal supplements or vitamins you may be taking.
- When a new medication is prescribed, find out the name of the drug, how and when it should be taken, whether there can be any interactions with other medications, foods or beverages, what side effects are possible and what to do if you miss a dose. Write down this information and include it on your list.
- If possible, purchase all medications from the same pharmacy so that the records of what you purchased will be all in one place. Keep the patient information that is attached to prescriptions in case you need to refer to it later.
- If you need help organizing dosage schedules or have questions about medications you are taking, talk to your doctor, physician’s assistant, nurse or pharmacist.
- Read and keep package inserts that come with your prescription medicine. This is not highly technical material or useless boilerplate wording. It is directly relevant to your experience with the medicine. More on package inserts.
- Read the label on the drug container before you taking any medication. If you are confused or can’t read the label, have someone else read it to be sure you are taking the right medication.
- Do not skip scheduled doses. If you are taking medications for pain, they need to be taken as directed to be effective. If you have breakthrough pain between doses, follow your doctor’s recommendations.
- If you don’t feel confident that you will remember to take your medication on schedule, set an alarm on your clock, watch, cell phone or computer.
- Store medications in a safe place away from heat, light and humidity.
There are pill cases with compartments, organized by time of day, that may be helpful, and dose tracker devices such as ‘Dose Dial’ that will attach to any container, and can monitor the number of doses and/or the interval of doses.
Medications can play a significant role in how well you feel and can enhance, or in some cases, lessen your quality of life. Always follow directions when taking any medication, and if you have questions, concerns or are experiencing undesirable side effects you feel may be related to the drugs, speak frankly with a member of your health care team.
Learn about pharmacovigilance programs.