Managing New Diabetes Prescriptionsby Corinna Cornejo Patient Advocate
A type 2 diabetes diagnosis usually means you will need one or more prescriptions. Most often oral medications (pills) are prescribed first to make your body more sensitive to insulin and/or produce more insulin. Later, injectables (shots) may be prescribed. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you adjust your daily self-care routine to include prescription medications.
Understand the medication being prescribed
You need to know what medication you’ll be taking. What’s the medication called? Does it have a generic name? What is the medication supposed to do? How does it need to be stored? If your healthcare professional doesn’t explain completely, ask.
Know why you are taking the medication
Find out how the prescription is supposed to benefit you. What effect will the medication have on your body? How is this supposed to improve your diabetes management and overall health?
Make sure you’re clear on how to take the medication
How much medication will you take? At what time of day? How many times during the day? Should the medication be taken with or without food? Are there foods or other medications you should avoid while taking this medication?
Find out what side effects to look for
Side effects are undesirable feelings, symptoms, or results that come from taking a certain medication. Some side effects cause discomfort, like intestinal gas. Other side effects can be quite serious and long lasting, like damaging an organ. You need to know what to look for and how to respond if/when side effects are felt.
If you still have questions about the medication, ask your pharmacist
If you aren’t 100 percent certain you understand how to take the medication, talk to your pharmacist when you pick up your prescription. Pharmacists are trained to answer questions about medications, dosages, and possible side effects.
Get organized mentally and physically
Taking time to organize your daily routine up front will help ensure that you are taking your medications correctly and consistently. Plan your daily medication routine in advance and avoid missing a dose because you don’t have your medication with you. Designate an appropriate place to store your medication and medical supplies and you’re less likely to run out or have your medication damaged by heat or moisture.
Sort your medication into doses
If you’re always on the go sorting your medication and medical supplies makes it easier to have what you need with you. Use a pill sorter instead of having to carry prescription bottles. Get a small zippered bag big enough to hold your blood glucose meter, medications, and medical supplies. Fill the bag with a day’s supplies and it makes it easy to grab-and-go knowing you have what you need.
Review and organize your daily medication regime
Over time your daily self-care routine will change. It’s important to review your routine regularly, every three months or so, to make sure you’re still on track with your daily self-care routine. One way to keep your routine top-of-mind is to write your schedule on an index card that can keep with you in your meter’s case or grab-and-go bag. Another way to keep organized is to use a health app that tracks your daily routine.
Store your medications and supplies properly
Most pills and supplies just need to be kept someplace cool and dry. But insulin and other injectables can be temperature sensitive and need to be refrigerated. Be sure you know how to store your medications and medical supplies properly so that they don’t get ruined. This will help you reap the full benefit of the medications you take and avoid the expense of having to replace ruined medications or supplies.
Log any changes in symptoms or feelings you experience
Whenever you start taking a new medication or change doses it’s a good idea to watch for side effects. Take a few minutes after taking your medication, after eating a meal, after exercising, and when you wake up in the morning to notice how you are feeling. Are you feeling nauseous? Dizzy? Not sleeping as well as you used to? Are you experiencing some other possible side effect? Make note of any changes you notice.
Report back to your healthcare team
Let your healthcare team know how things are going with the medication they’ve prescribed. It’s most important to let them know of any side effects, especially if they point to long term or permanent damage. But it’s also important to let them know if you’re having any other difficulties consistently taking your medications correctly. Work with your healthcare team to make the adjustments needed so that you can take care of yourself.