Taking medicine is a part of life. At one point or another, we have all taken medicines – prescription or non-prescription – to support our health and wellbeing.
While there’s nothing wrong with taking medicines, it helps to understand why you need them, how they should be taken and what their benefits and possible side effects can be.
A recent poll of 1,000 Australian adults found that many of those surveyed are taking prescription medicines regularly and 78 per cent of the survey respondents aged 50 and over say they are managing multiple numbers of medicines.
For people taking multiple medicines, side effects, interactions between medicines, accidental overdosing and forgetting to take medication are all potential risks to be considered.
You might think searching the Internet for answers about your health condition (or that of a loved one) is helpful, but truthfully, not every piece of information you encounter is accurate or reliable.
It’s only natural to want to know more about a condition or treatment and often the best place to get answers is your health care professional.
What happens when you can’t see your health care professional?
Sometimes when you can’t see your health professional, you will need to know where you can find information about health conditions, medicines and treatments. You want to access information that is reliable, helps you understand more about a condition or treatment, and is presented in a way that makes it easy for you to understand.
There are a number of independent websites that are designed to support you to find information on health conditions and treatments, including NPS MedicineWise and Better Health Channel.
August 22 marks the start of Be Medicinewise Week across Australia.
Be MedicineWise Week is an opportunity for you to take charge of your health by increasing your awareness about the medicines you are taking, the reasons why you are taking them and the importance of having a regular conversation about medicines.
Do you know what questions to ask before taking new medication?
Too often you take your medicine for granted, but when you are medicinewise you know how to get the most benefit out of the medication you are taking. It starts with five simple questions you should be asking your health care professional:
- What is this medicine for?
- What is the active ingredient?
- How do I take or use this medicine correctly?
- What are the possible side effects and what can I do about them?
- What should or shouldn’t I do while taking this medicine?
How can you take charge of your health?
There is nothing to be concerned about when it comes to taking charge of your health. To ensure you get the best for your health, it’s important to follow a few steps that will maximise the time you have with your health care professional at your next appointment.
You want to arrive on time or even early for your appointment, which ensures both you and your health care professional have adequate time to discuss your condition, any symptoms and treatment.
Be sure to ask your health care professional if you need to fast for any blood tests, which ensures your test results are as accurate as they can be.
If you need a longer appointment, be sure to ask for one. This is especially important if you have more than one health complaint to discuss at the time.
Keep a record of your symptoms, which allows you to provide your health care professional with as much detail as possible. They will want to know when and how often a symptom has happened, how bad the experience was, and whether or not you were engaged in other activities at the time.
Keeping a personal list of your medicines can also help a great deal – and it’s now easier than ever. The MedicineList+ smartphone app will help you keep track of multiple medications, understand each of them better, and ultimately help you get the best results. Click here to download the app.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your health care professional, even if you think they are silly. By arming yourself with the right information, you are giving yourself a better understanding of your condition and treatment, thereby allowing yourself to make more informed decisions.
This post is sponsored by NPS Medicinewise. For more information on how to take charge of your health, please visit the NPS Medicinewise website.