Five Common Problems with Medications


1. No Effect

Sometimes you start taking a medication, can't see any change in your symptoms and conclude it is not working.

2. Side Effects

The most common negative result of taking a medication, side effects are unwanted consequences of using a drug. They include fatigue, mental confusion, memory problems, sleepiness, sleeplessness, nausea, diarrhea, constipation and dizziness.

3. Allergic Reactions and Drug Interactions

Drugs can trigger allergic reactions from the body, such as a rash, hives, swelling, wheezing or difficult breathing. If this occurs, stop taking the medication and contact your doctor.

If you take more than one medication, you may experience problems caused by how the drugs interact with one another.

4. Remembering to Take Your Medications

If you have problems remembering to take your medications, consider using a seven-day pillbox or pill organizer, which has a compartment for each day of the week or month.

• If you have morning and evening pills, you can use two pillboxes.

• Fill the boxes on the same day once a week. This practice reduces the chances you will take a double dose of your medications. If it's Wednesday morning and there are pills in the Wednesday slot, you take them. If the compartment is empty, it means you have already taken them.

A second strategy is to incorporate reminders into your life. For example:

• You might put your pills in the bathroom, where you'll see them when you get up in the morning and as you're preparing for bed at night.

• Or you could use a timer or alarm on your watch to tell you it's time to take a medication.

5. Drug Costs

A final problem with taking medications is cost. You may be able to lower your drug costs by:

• Using a generic medication rather than a brand name drug

• Shopping around (prices vary from one pharmacy to another)

• Buying your drugs by mail (AARP and other organizations offer such services)

• Discussing your medications with your doctor to see whether one or more might be dropped or one medication used in place of two.

Learn more about Managing Your Medications.
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