A good majority of people make uninformed changes to their medications and consequently suffer major complications as a result of their actions. I’ve included many of the reasons people use to not take their medications as prescribed in an excerpt from Lifestyle Makeover for Diabetics and Pre-Diabetics.

Know Your Diabetes Medications

During my pharmacy practice, I realized that most people have a stigma about taking medications for prolonged periods of time for their chronic conditions. Consequently, they might make personal and ill-informed treatment decisions such as stopping their medications, taking them intermittently to save money, running out of medications and not taking the time to renew them in a timely fashion, or for various other reasons they interrupt the flow of the treatment without consulting with their pharmacist or doctor. This is a dangerous practice and can lead to dire consequences.

Throughout the history of my practice — day in and day out — I heard these same statements from patients who either stopped taking their medications or were not taking them appropriately:

“I take my blood pressure medication only when I’m not feeling good, and I usually can tell when I need it!”

“I stopped taking my medications because I felt better, and my diabetes is doing good.”

“I can’t afford my diabetes medications or my cholesterol medications, so I only have been taking them 2 or 3 times a week.”

“I did not take the blood pressure medication that the doctor prescribed because I don’t want to have to take it for the rest of my life.”

“I don’t take my cholesterol medications because I don’t want my body to get used to it, and I don’t want that medication to take over my body.”

“I told my wife to stop taking her blood pressure medications because I don’t want her to get addicted to them.”

“The side effects that I read about my blood pressure, my cholesterol and diabetes medications were awful, so I stopped taking them because I thought it was dangerous to my health.”

“My sugar levels were good and never higher than 160 first thing in the morning, so I decided to not take the diabetes medications any more.”

“I don’t want to take blood pressure medication and cholesterol medications for life because there’s nothing wrong with me!”

“I have not been taking my diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure medication since I moved here about 9 months ago. I’m still looking for a doctor in this area.”

“It has been days since I ran out of my diabetes medications and my doctor has not OK’d the refill request you people in the pharmacy have placed with his office.”

By the way, whenever you are taking any kind of chronic medications and the pharmacy is calling the doctor for you to renew your prescription, always ask for a medication loaner if you are out. Sometimes pharmacy personnel forget to ask if you ran out of your medications. Never interrupt your treatment and always ask for a medication loaner, and any pharmacy will be glad to do so.

First, let me dispel some myths and provide general guidance regarding long-term medications you take for any chronic condition. Never make personal treatment decisions without consulting with your pharmacist or doctor. Please know that you should have no ill feelings at all if you take medications for any conditions for any length of time. If you have pain or have an infection or a cold, your doctor prescribes medications to treat them. You probably take a multivitamin or a calcium pill daily and for life (if not, you should).

The absolute same situation applies to any other chronic condition, including diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, sexual dysfunction, and heart disease. It has been shown by numerous trials that the drugs available to treat these conditions are truly lifesaving, as they keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol or other condition being treated at bay. Consequently, all sorts of fatal complications are averted. We truly should feel so lucky that we are living in this era of advanced medicine and medicinal technology.

Do not be reluctant, not for a minute, to take your medications diligently, and don’t make any changes without informing your pharmacist or doctor. Taking your medications intermittently or when you think you need them does not protect you from controllable deadly complications. Only when you take your medications daily, at regular intervals, as prescribed, will you get the best protection from the medication.

This does not mean that you should not question what you have been prescribed. You should be informed; if in doubt, you should question what your doctor has prescribed, and you can call the pharmacist and ask questions, or you can secure a second opinion from an alternate doctor.
If you are concerned about side effects, which you read about in the leaflet that accompanies the medications, talk to your pharmacist about your concern before making any decision to stop the medication. Professionals can interpret these side effects or these concerns of yours in a different and clearer way than a nonprofessional can. Most of these side effects are minor and manageable and occur in a very small percentage of people.

When your doctor decides on a medication course, he or she weighs the benefits vs. consequences; and the benefits of these drugs, most often, far outweigh any consequences. So never make personal decisions and uninformed decisions about any kind of medication without consulting with professionals first.

© Copyright Tohme 2012

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