Know Your Medication
Medication plays a crucial role in helping you manage your illness, especially if you have a chronic condition. At National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, we work closely with NHG Pharmacy to provide you with the necessary medication and advice on ways to ensure safe consumption of your prescription.
Read on to find out more about the common medicines dispensed at the polyclinics.
Medicines for Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
There are many types of medicines available to help lower your blood pressure, and it may be necessary for you to take more than one to keep your condition under control. It is important to take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist. Otherwise, the medicine may not work, cause undesired side effects, or result in harm to your body.
- DIURETICS get rid of excess water and salt (sodium) from the body. Click here to find out more.
- BETA BLOCKERS reduce heart rate and the heart’s output of blood. Click here to find out more.
- CALCIUM CHANNEL BLOCKERS keep calcium from entering the muscle cells of the heart and blood vessels. This causes the blood vessels to relax and dilate. Click here to find out more.
- ALPHA BLOCKERS work on the nervous system to dilate the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily. Click here to find out more.
- ANGIOTENSIN CONVERTING ENZYME (ACE) INHIBITORS prevent the formation of a substance called angiotensin II, which normally causes blood vessels to constrict. Click here to find out more.
- ANGIOTENSIN II RECEPTOR BLOCKERS (ARBs) block the action of a substance called angiotensin II at the blood vessel walls and thereby prevent the constriction of blood vessels. Click here to find out more.
- VASODILATORS open blood vessels by relaxing the muscle in the vessel walls. Click here to find out more.
- Know the names and doses of the medicines you are taking.
- Take it regularly as directed by your doctor.
- Never stop taking the medicine even if you feel better. It helps to lower your blood pressure and keeps it under control, which in turn helps to prevent other complications like stroke and heart attack. You may need to take the medicines for life.
- Ask for the doctor’s or pharmacist’s advice before crushing or splitting tablets; some should only be swallowed whole.
- Avoid taking alcohol.
- Check with your doctor or pharmacist if there is any food or other medicines that you need to avoid while taking this medicine.
- Take the medicine before or after food as indicated on the label, or according to the doctor’s or pharmacist’s instructions.
- Never take someone else’s prescribed medicine or share yours with someone else.
- Inform the doctor if you are pregnant, intend to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.
- Like all medicines, some people may be allergic to hypertension medicine. If you develop rashes, difficulty in breathing or swallowing after taking the medicine, stop medicating and seek medical attention immediately.
Take your medicine at the same time each day so that it becomes a habit.
If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only the usual dose. Do not double the dosage on your own.
- Follow any specific instructions for the storage of your medicines (e.g. some medicines require refrigeration, others do not).
- Unless instructed otherwise, store your medicines in a cool, dry place and protect them from moisture, heat and direct sunlight.
- Store medicine in the original labelled container. Do not keep different types of medicine together in one container.
Find out how to better manage your high blood pressure at home by clicking here.
Medicines for Diabetes (Type 2)
There are many types of medicines available to control Type 2 diabetes, and it may be necessary for you to take more than one to keep your condition under control. It is important to take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist. Otherwise, the medicine may not work, cause undesired side effects, or result in harm to your body.
- a - glucosidase inhibitors
Please click here to find out more about the names of the medicines usually prescribed under the various groups stated above.
- Low blood sugar (Hypoglycaemia)
If you take your medicine but do not eat on time, your blood sugar may become too low. You may experience weakness, dizziness, extreme hunger, sweating, trembling, blurred vision, or an accelerated heart rate.
If you have any of these symptoms, take glucose tablets, half a glass of fruit juice or 2 – 4 teaspoons of sugar, honey or syrup immediately and you should feel better in about 15 minutes. Seek medical attention immediately if the symptoms do not go away.
- Stomach discomfort / Bloated feeling or gas / Diarrhoea
These symptoms may occur occasionally. Seek medical attention if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away.
- Nausea or vomiting / Loss of appetite
You may experience these symptoms if you are taking metformin, repaglinide, nateglinide or rosiglitazone. The medicine should be taken after food or with food to help reduce these symptoms. Seek medical attention if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away.
- Skin rash
Rashes may occur when you are taking these medicines. If you develop rashes, inform your doctor immediately.
Before taking your medicine, inform your doctor if:
- You are allergic to this medicine or any other medicines.
- You are taking other prescription and non-prescription medicines.
- You have a heart, kidney or liver condition.
- You are undergoing any form of surgery.
- You are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
- You are breastfeeding.
- Learn the name and dose of your medicine.
- Take your medicine regularly and exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
- Do not stop taking your medicine without consulting your doctor.
- If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only the usual dose. Do not double the dosage.
- Test your blood sugar as directed by your doctor.
- If you visit another doctor, be sure to inform him or her you are taking this medicine.
- If you are taking metformin, inform your doctor before undergoing any scan or x-ray procedure. You may need to stop taking it for a few days prior to the procedure.
- Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach as this may lead to a very low blood sugar level.
You should keep all medicine in its original container or packaging, tightly closed or sealed. Store tablets in a cool and dry environment.
More Information on Insulin:
People born with diabetes have what is known as Type 1 Diabetes. This condition can only be managed through the use of insulin injections. Please click here to know more about insulin and how to administer it.
Medicines for Cardiovascular Disease
There are many types of medication available to manage cardiovascular (heart) disease, and it may be necessary for you to take more than one to keep your condition under control. It is important to take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist. Otherwise, the medicine may not work, cause undesired side effects, or result in harm to your body.
The following list* consists of the various types of medicine your doctor may prescribe to manage your condition, according to your needs.
*This list is not exhaustive and is in no way a substitute for a doctor’s advice. Always obtain a full medical assessment for your condition and do not self-medicate.
FAQs on Polypharmacy (Concurrent use of multiple medicines)
||Polypharmacy is defined as the concurrent use of multiple medicines either dispensed according to a prescription or bought over-the-counter.
||Using multiple medicines concurrently can lead to problems such as the occurrence of adverse reactions, wastage, improper use, under-use or over-use of medicines.
||If you are aged 65 or older, you are most probably taking one or more medicines prescribed to you by your doctor, as well as products that you can buy over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription. While such medicines can help maintain health and prevent further illness, taking a combination of different medicines means that you can be at risk for unwanted interactions, which can result in adverse reactions. If you take medicines prescribed by doctors and answer 'yes' to any of the questions below, you can be at increased risk.
- Do you take herbs, vitamins or OTC products?
- Do you have to take medicine more than once a day?
- Do you see different doctors for different conditions?
- Do you use different pharmacies to fill your prescriptions?
- Do you have poor eyesight or hearing?
- Do you live alone?
- Do you sometimes forget to take your medicine?
||As long as your doctor is aware of what medicine you are taking, and monitors them carefully, the benefits can far outweigh the risks. However, if you feel that you are taking too many kinds of medicine, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. There are many ways that you and your health care providers can work together to reduce or avoid the risks altogether. Follow the instructions given by your doctor or pharmacist carefully.
Some simple tips:
- Talk to your doctor about your medicine.
- Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines prescribed by other doctors.
- Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are consuming non-prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines or dietary supplements (herbs, vitamins, etc.).
- Keep a written record of your medicines. You can show the record to your doctor at each visit. You can also note any new symptoms or possible side effects you experience as these can help pinpoint the cause of any problems.
- Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions regarding your medicines.
- Do not share your medicines with others or consume medicines belonging to others. They may not be suitable for you.
- Remember - you should always know what you are taking and why you are taking them.
||If you take several medicines daily you need to have a medication schedule. This will allow you to take your medicines at regular intervals so that the amount of medicine in your body is maintained appropriately. Ask your pharmacist to help you to prepare a medication schedule and update it whenever your prescriptions change.
It is helpful to have a memory aid, for example, a pill-box with easy-to-open compartments for each day of the week and time it has to be taken. You may want to purchase a product that uses an electronic alarm such as a buzzer, flashing light or that vibrates when it is time to take your medicine. Ask your pharmacist for help in choosing the appropriate type of device for your needs.
||You should keep your medicines in their original containers where possible and store them in a cool and dry place.