Many people take more than one prescription medication to manage a chronic health condition, or multiple conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24% of Americans take three or more medications, and 42% of all adults age 65 and older take five or more prescription medications.
It can be challenging to manage multiple prescriptions, from remembering to take each dose on time and staying on top of refills, to preventing interactions and side effects. If you take multiple medications, here are some tips to help you stay on track with treatment.
Keep all of your healthcare providers on the same page.
If you see different specialists for different conditions, it’s important that each of them is familiar with your entire medication regimen, including over-the-counter medications or supplements. This is so that they can treat you as effectively as possible, providing insight into the cause of any side effects you may be experiencing and helping you avoid medication interactions.
Make a list of all the prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and supplements you take, including the dosages, and bring it with you to each doctor’s appointment.
Educate yourself about each medication you take.
Another reason to make a detailed list of all your medications: to ensure you understand what each is used for. Many people find it easier to stay on top of their full regimen when they know why each medication matters.
Informing yourself about your medications can also help you prevent medication interactions and side effects. You should always know the answers to the following questions about any medication you take — your pharmacist is a great resource for information.
Can I take this medication with other medications?
Should I avoid certain foods or drinks when taking this medication?
Are there known potential medication interactions? If so, what signs should I watch for?
Remember, too, that taking a medication as prescribed often means more than simply taking the medication. In many cases, medication therapy also includes testing and clinical monitoring. If you aren’t sure about the details of your treatment plan, including what lab work your medication requires, don’t hesitate to ask your care team for clarification.
Fill your prescriptions at a single pharmacy.
There are many reasons to have a single pharmacy partner. Consolidated medication records allow your pharmacist to offer more effective consulting about interactions and side effects, and to collaborate more easily with your care team.
Filling all your prescriptions at one pharmacy may also simplify medication management. At Alto, we offer a free medication bundling service that syncs your refills so that you receive all your medications in one easy recurring delivery.
Create your preferred medication reminder system.
Medication errors, like missing a dose or taking an extra one, are more common with the more medications you take. There are a variety of tools to help you remember when to take your medication.
Pill organizers, which have compartments for different medications, allow you to quickly determine whether or not you’ve already taken your dose. There are both daily and weekly pill organizers; the best option for you depends on personal preference and how many medications you take.
When using a pill organizer, make a dosage schedule with clear descriptions of each pill to avoid mixing up medications.
Consider setting alarms to help you remember when it’s time for a dose. The Alto app includes custom medication reminders. Many people also find it helpful to link the act of taking their medication to another daily activity, like brushing their teeth or eating breakfast.
Stay on top of refills.
It’s also important to find your preferred system for remembering refills. Our app’s medication management features include auto refills and medication bundling.
If you aren’t using a medication management app, check your prescription labels regularly to see how many refills are remaining. Take note of when you will need to call or visit your doctor for a refill and mark it on your calendar.
Checking prescription labels also helps ensure that you aren’t taking expired medication!
Make a note of side effects.
Taking multiple medications may increase the possibility of more serious side effects. Even if you experience side effects, you should never stop taking a medication without first consulting your doctor. Rather, keep a log of side effects and discuss them with your doctor. They may be able to recommend adjusting your dosage or safely switching to an alternative medication.
Review your medications with a provider at least once a year.
Treatment needs may evolve with time. To ensure that you are still receiving the best treatment for your needs, review your medication list with a provider at least once a year. This is also an opportunity to discuss any concerns and adjust dosages if necessary.
In addition to an annual review, you should also review your medication regimen with a healthcare professional if you receive a new diagnosis or experience new symptoms of an existing health condition.
Try the Alto app for easy medication management
The Alto app gives you control and convenience in managing your medications, with auto refills, medication bundling, and custom dosing reminders. You can also chat with expert pharmacists to get the answers you need about your treatment, even during nights and weekends.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.