Tweaking Your Own Drug Doses?

Navigate Your Health thanks Dr. Nikita Parikh, a Health Consultant at in4MED, for this month’s guest contribution.*

Image    by    Gundula Voge   l is licensed under    CC by 1.0   .

Image by Gundula Vogel is licensed under CC by 1.0.

Those of us who take medications regularly, are probably guilty of missing a dose once in a while, or taking the wrong dose by mistake. We also know how tempting it can be to adjust or skip doses on our own, just to avoid going through the hassle of booking an appointment with a doctor and discussing it with them.

As a healthcare consultant, every now and then, I find myself explaining the term "medication adherence" to my clients. Simply put, this term means taking the proper dose of medication at the right time and in the right way for as long as you’re supposed to. If you don't follow the pharmacist's instructions, the drug won’t work as well as it should or, in the worst case scenario, result in a medical emergency.

Missing one dose or forgetting to take one tiny pill might not seem like a big deal, but failing to take your medication properly can definitely have a negative impact on your health. Taking a pill for every ill can also cause its own problems. It might be worth thinking about the over-the-counter medications we take, or even the complementary or alternative measures we use to combat other symptoms that might be affecting or causing new symptoms.

When it comes to drug doses, always ask an expert. Whether you stop taking a drug, start a new one or adjust the dosage, when you do it without running it past your doctor or pharmacist, it all counts as tweaking your own drug dose. Apart from people who have had diabetes for a long time, and know how their insulin works, I would be worried if someone told me they were experimenting with medications.

If you think you are experiencing side effects, be sure to discuss these concerns with your doctor. Your doctor could adjust your medication accordingly. However, you should never make adjustments to medications yourself. Always consult first with your health care provider.

If your lifestyle creates problems for you that disrupt your regimen, try out some well-known tips that help improve your habits:

  • Plan a medication regimen so that it becomes part of your daily routine. Take medications as soon as you get out of bed, or right after eating breakfast, or just before you go to bed.

  • Create reminders for yourself in whatever way works best for you—notes, checklists, journals or alarms. Ask family, colleagues and friends to remind you to take your medication regularly, as they can be a great source of support.

If you want to learn more about your medications, www.drugs.com is a great website to check for drug interactions, or new drugs and it even helps you identify pills.

Another great resource is the MedsCheck medication review program, that provides an opportunity for pharmacists to meet one-on-one with patients, helping them to identify and resolve common medication-related issues in order to get the most benefit from their medication. As long as you qualify for the program, all MedsCheck services are available to the patient at no charge. 

As always, feel free to reach out to me, ask questions and post comments.

Nikita
Healthcare Consultant, in4MED
nikita.parikh@in4med.ca
www.in4med.ca

The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers.

Note: No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.

*This article, originally published March 21, 2019, is republished with permission from Dr. Nikita Parikh.

Kirstin Veugelers