Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
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New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
Chronic diseases usually need to be managed over a long period of time. Medicine is a common tool to help manage symptoms but they need to be taken properly. Problems may include:
Some medicine has immediate and clear affects. If you stop taking it, symptoms will come back or you fall very ill. Other medicine may not have immediate affects but it can lower your risk of serious illness at a later time. Talk to your care team to better understand the role of your medicine. Not following your medication plan can lead to a worsening of your condition and:
Make an appointment to talk to your doctor. Write down any questions you have. Make sure you are clear about:
Your pharmacist can also answer questions about your medicine. Don't be shy when it comes to asking questions. They can tell you about your medicine, possible problems with other drugs, and side effects. Don't be afraid to write the instructions down.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about side effects. Know which ones are common. They may seem less bothersome is you know what to expect. Take some time to read the paperwork that comes with your medicine. The most common side effects are often listed first. Keep in mind that your body will often adjust to medicine in a short amount of time.
Let your care team know if a side effect is too much to manage. It may make you feel ill or make it hard for you to get through your day. Another medication may be more useful to you. There may also be steps to help ease the side effects.
Drugs can cause problems when combined. They may create or worsen side effects. Let your doctors know about any medicine you are taking. This includes any supplements or herbs.
Options to help ease the sot of medicine include:
Keep in mind that you may feel well because your medicine is working.
Some conditions, such as high blood pressure, do not have symptoms that you can feel. That does not mean your health is fine. In other cases, such as asthma, the symptoms go away because of the medicine. If you were to stop taking it, your symptoms would return.
Talk to your care team to better understand your treatment. It may help you feel more motivated to continue treatment.
There are a number of strategies to try:
Keep in touch with your care team. Review your treatment plan at least once per year. New medications may help to reduce the number of pills that you need. If you are facing challenges, get help from your doctor and pharmacist. There may be solutions you were not aware of. The steps that you take now can have a huge impact on the rest of your life.
National Council on Patient Information and Education
Take Control of Your Health
Canadian Pharmacists Association
Bosworth H. Medication adherence: making the case for increased awareness. Script Your Future website. Available at: http://scriptyourfuture.org/wp-content/themes/cons/m/Script_Your_Future_Briefing_Paper.pdf. Accessed June 4, 2019.
National Council on Patient Information and Education. Enhancing prescription medicine adherence: a national action plan. Educate Before You Medicate website. Available at: http://www.talkaboutrx.org/documents/enhancing_prescription_medicine_adherence.pdf. Accessed June 4, 2019.
Overcoming Barriers to Medication Adherence for Chronic Diseases. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. https://www.cdc.gov/grand-rounds/pp/2017/20170221-medication-adherence.html. Last updated: February 28, 2018. Accessed June 4, 2019.
Last reviewed July 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP Last Updated: 6/4/2019