When you’re taking several medicines, it can be hard to keep track of them. But you’ll feel better if you take steps to manage your medicines. These tips can help you stay healthy:

  • Know the basics about your medicines, such as what they’re for and when to take them.

  • Take your medicines as recommended.

  • Tell your health care providers which medicines (prescription and nonprescription) and dietary supplements (such as vitamins) you use.

Ask your health care provider or your pharmacist these questions about your medicines. Write the information on the “My Medicines” chart on the back of this page.

  • □ What are the names of my medicines (brand and generic names)?

  • □ What’s the strength? (for example, the number of milligrams, abbreviated as mg)

  • □ What’s this medicine for?

  • □ How long will it take this medicine to work?

  • □ How much should I take for one dose?

  • □ When should I take it? How many times a day? At what times?

  • □ Should I take it on an empty stomach?

  • □ Should I avoid any foods or medicines when I take it?

  • □ Should I avoid alcoholic beverages when I’m taking this medicine?

  • □ How does this medicine affect my blood glucose (sugar) level?

  • □ Do I need to avoid driving when I take this medicine?

  • □ What side effects might happen with this medicine? What should I do if I experience side effects?

  • □ What should I do if I miss a dose?

  • □ How should this medicine be stored?

  • □ How long will this supply last? What about refills?

When you don’t take a medicine as prescribed, the effect on your health can be unpredictable—or even dangerous. If you’re not taking your medicine, think about the reasons. Are there unpleasant side effects? Is the medicine too expensive? Is it hard to remember to take it? Tell your health care providers. They may be able to help.

Some combinations of medicine and dietary supplements can be harmful. Each of your health care providers should be aware of all of the medicines you take, including nonprescription medicines (such as aspirin and laxatives) and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other substances). Use the “My Medicines” chart to list all of your medicines. Take a copy with you when you see each of your health care providers. You can also give a copy to a friend or a family member.

Contact your health care provider if you are sick to see if your medications need to be adjusted.

  • Try using a pill organizer with a compartment for each day of the week.

  • Link your pill-taking to something in your daily routine. For example, take your morning medicine right after you brush your teeth.

  • Use a chart to check off when you’ve taken your medicines.

This handout was published in Clinical Diabetes, Vol. 41, issue 3, 2023, and was adapted from the American Diabetes Association’s handout “Managing Your Medicines.” Visit the Association’s Patient Education Library at professional.diabetes.org/PatientEd for other free, downloadable handouts in several languages. Distribute these to your patients and share them with others on your health care team. Copyright American Diabetes Association, Inc., 2023.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at https://www.diabetesjournals.org/journals/pages/license.