Helping you get through tough times

Managing long-term medication

There are loads of reasons why medication is part of people’s day-to-day lives but it’s not always an easy thing to manage.
Diary by Nikki Paulie
If you’re taking long-term medication, it can sometimes feel like it’s disrupting your life and getting in the way of normal things.

If you’re finding it hard to manage your medication, talk to someone about how you’re doing, a friend, a family member, a counsellor or your GP.

Have a look at face-to-face help for more information about how these people can help.

There are a few things you might want to consider if you’re taking long-term medications:

Consult your doctor

You’re probably going to be seeing a medical specialist who will oversee the management of your medication. It’s a good idea to talk to them if you have any problems or questions about the medication you’re taking.

If you find it difficult to talk to your doctor or psychiatrist, start by telling someone you trust. The face-to-face help and support from family and friends pages will take you through some good options for doing this in a way that you’re comfortable with.

Know your medication

Knowing the details of your medication is important. This means knowing both the brand and generic names for your medication, and your dosage.

There may be times when you have to tell other people what medication you are on, if you’re in an accident or if you’re consulting another health professional for other medical reasons. It may be a good idea to have your details in your wallet.

Side effects

Every medication is different in terms of the type and impact of the side effects it has. Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about the likely side affects of your medication.

If you’re experiencing unusual symptoms talk to your doctor immediately. There might be things that you shouldn’t do while taking the medication. For example, with some medication it’s recommended you don’t mix it with alcohol or other drugs.

Stick with your medication

When you’re feeling good, it may be tempting to reduce your medication or stop for a period of time. Changing the medication levels yourself can have serious consequences and so you need to speak to your doctor or psychiatrist first.

Medication and pregnancy

Some medications affect the development of a baby. If you’re planning a pregnancy or already pregnant, talk to your doctor about your medication and the possible implications for the pregnancy.

Your doctor should be able to explain the other options that are available.

Medication and travelling

Managing your medication if you’re travelling is important. Your doctor should be able to advise you on when to take it and make sure that you are not affected by the changing of time zones.

It’s also really important to have enough medication for the length of time you’re away and make sure you can get more if required. To do this, you’ll need:

  • medical insurance that gives you cover for purchasing more medication
  • a letter or prescription from your doctor or psychiatrist that gives details of your medication and permission for you to get more.

Medication and airlines

Airlines sometimes have rules around traveling with needles or liquids. If you need needles to administer your medication or have to take liquids on the plane, let your travel agent or airline know about your medication needs when you book your flight.

They can then advise you on how to stick within their policies.

More information on managing medication

Take a look at rxisk.org, an independent drug safety website that provides information on specific types of drugs.

This article was last reviewed on 03 May 2017

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