Published on September 18, 2020

Prescription bottles at a pharmacy.

Tips for getting the greatest benefit from your prescriptions

Medication is used for various reasons. It can treat medical conditions, control chronic conditions and enhance your long-term health and well-being.

It’s important to take medications as prescribed. Antibiotics need to be taken until finished, even if your symptoms have resolved.

Some people skip medications out of concern about side effects or the cost. Others have a hard time remembering when or how to take their medications, have trouble swallowing it, or think they can stop taking it once their symptoms decrease.

Here are eight tips to help solve medication challenges and ensure you get the full benefit from your prescriptions:

1. Fill all prescriptions at the same pharmacy. This allows the pharmacist to know your medication history and see whether any medications will interact with each other.

2. Ask the pharmacist to explain the instructions and side effects. Read the printed information and keep it.

3. Talk to the pharmacist about any concerns you may have, such as managing refills; organizing pills in labeled containers; a need for larger type on labeling or instructions; special medication caps or packaging; or how taking medication can be made easier, especially for children.

4. Inquire about alternatives, such as lower-cost generic medication options, whether pills can be crushed or cut, individual pill blister packs, or whether the pharmacist can provide smaller pills in lower dosages that can be taken to meet the doctor’s orders as prescribed.

5. Organize multiple medications in a pill container by days of the week. Fill the container at the same time every week. Keep it and reminder information near where you take the medication but away from children. For longer-term medication, also store instructions and the labeled prescription bottle with one pill inside in a safe place.

6. Take medication at the same time daily and in the same way. Develop a reminder system using a calendar, smart phone, watch, computer or list.

7. Write down any problems or questions regarding medication and discuss them with your prescriber or pharmacist. Include as many details as possible.

8. If you skip your medication or forget to take it multiple times, tell your doctor. Ask for a review of the benefits of your medications and the consequences of skipping doses.

Be sure you understand why medication has been prescribed and how to take it so you can follow your provider’s instructions.