By: Alonso Chavarriaga
Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN, and creator of the website justtherightdose.com, believes it’s important to know how to take your medicine safely.
Taking Your Medication the Right Way
Some medications can be vague, calling for a dose “four times a day” or “twice a day” instead of “every six hours” or “every 12 hours.” It can be confusing, but there is a reasoning behind this. Some drugs need to have consistent levels in the blood throughout the day and need to be taken in regular intervals such as every six hours. Others may need to be taken four times a day as well, but have a little more leeway in terms of consistency. “If instructions are very specific, there’s a reason for it,” says Durning.
What if the pill is too big, and you need to break it open? Some pills are huge, making it very difficult to swallow. Some individuals have a strong gag reflex and may have trouble swallowing even the smallest pills. In these cases, breaking the capsule or cutting your tablet so you can chew it seems very tempting.
Before you do anything to modify your pills, however, ask your pharmacist if it can be broken or chewed. Some medicines have a special coating so they don’t get absorbed until reaching the gut.
Other medicines have a time-release system that allows a certain part of the drug to be released in the stomach, continuing the release as it travels farther down the intestine. Asking your pharmacist beforehand will clarify which drugs can be modified, and, many times the pharmacists may even break or split the pills for you using tools designed to do just that.
The Important Role of Pharmacists
“Pharmacists have a huge role for educating patients,” believes Durning. Patients simply aren’t asking enough questions. Oftentimes, you just go to your pharmacy, grab your prescriptions, and rush out.
While doctors know what medicine to prescribe, pharmacists actually know the ins and outs, common symptoms, and so much more information about drugs. They should be seen as wonderful resources for your medication, not just people behind a counter that grab your prescription and send you on your way.
In the accompanying audio segment, Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN, discusses important tips for making sure you take your prescription medication correctly and safely.