Are you on the right medicine? Is it doing what it is supposed to do? Most people over a certain age are usually on some type of medication and many times more than one medication. If you have diabetes, you probably are taking some type of medicine to help you control your blood sugar. You want to be sure whatever you are taking is doing its job and not causing further problems. It is a very good idea to have your primary care physician assess all of your medications, prescriptions, over-the-counter meds such as aspirin or Tylenol, and supplements such as vitamins, at each visit. Although medications can work miracles and improve our health, in the wrong combination they can do a great deal of harm. Sometimes one medication will basically cancel out another medication and you will not be getting the desire benefit. You are just throwing money down the drain if this is the case. Who wants to do that? If you are spending hard earned money on medications, you want them to be doing exactly what they are supposed to do.
Be smart about your medications. One good way to do this is to use one pharmacy or drug store for all your medications. Most now have computerized systems to help check drug interactions when you have your prescriptions filled, but if you are getting some filled at one place and others at another place, obviously, that system cannot work.
Another important part of this is the pharmacist. Computerized systems are great but they do not take the place of a human being. Get to know your pharmacist and be sure your pharmacist knows you. Ask them to double check your medications frequently and especially when you add a new medication. Sometimes a doctor will write a new prescription, but not write a note or prescription to discontinue a medication the new one is replacing. If this isn’t caught, it can result in serious problems. Asking you pharmacist to double check your meds is a good idea. Also, talk to your pharmacist about any “dos and don’ts” when you get a new medication. Some should be taken with meals; some on an empty stomach. Some should be taken with milk and some work best when taken with an acidic juice. Some should not be taken within 2 hours of certain other medications. This information is usually given to you in those long, type written information sheets that usually come with your medication but how many people really read those? Some of them are very hard to understand, too. So the best advice is to get to know your pharmacists and talk to them and listen to what they say.
Be sure your pharmacist knows about the over the counter medications you take and any supplements you take. For example, taking something like Tums with certain medications makes the medication you are taking worthless. You are not getting the needed benefit and you are just throwing your money away. Grapefruit juice makes many medications ineffective---again, you are throwing that money away. Many cough and cold preparations contain sugar so if you are a diabetic, these are not what you want to be using. Your pharmacist can guide you to the products that will do the job without causing further problems. Many cold preparations elevate blood pressure. If you have that problem, you certainly don’t want to add to it by taking the wrong over-the-counter preparation. How do you know what to take? Ask your pharmacist.
Sometimes people will have been taking a medication for a long period of time then suddenly, it seems like it has become ineffective. Often it is not the medication that has changed but the body has changed and a condition has progressed and therefore a different medication that works in a different way may be what is needed. Your pharmacist may be able to give you some information on other types of medications to discuss with your doctor. They cannot prescribe for you, but they certainly can give you information to discuss with your doctor or sometimes they will call and talk with the doctor themselves. All of this comes about when you have a good relationship with your pharmacist and discuss you medications and health issues with them.
On Thursday, September 27, at 6 P.M in the Civic Room, we will be having our monthly Community Diabetes Management Meeting which is a service provided at no charge to the public. Our speaker this month is Dr. Patrick Devereux, Pharm D., who will be speaking on medications and diabetes. This will include medications to help treat diabetes, but also medications that you should be cautious about if you have diabetes. This should be helpful for everyone. Come and bring anyone interested and remember, parking is now free.