Know Your Medication.

Taking medication is part and parcel of overcoming and injury and can be mandatory for coping with an acquired disability and managing pain.

But do you have the right understanding of how your medication works? Do you worry about what that list of side-effects actually means? or how drug x works if you are taking drug y?

The need to take medication generally far outweighs out wants to take medication. Antibiotics, pain relief and the anti depression medications are among the main reasons why a doctor will prescribe medication. From the doctors perspective they are relying on scientific tests for the medicines effectiveness to treat the condition you are coming in with. We know that anti-biotics will help prevent infections, chemotherapy is a fairly reliable method of reducing a cancerous growth in our bodies etc... because of these tests.

Because of these tests we also know that these medications will or may do more to our bodies than just what they were designed to do. Placing chemicals in our bodies isn't like sending in a sniper to eradicate one bad blood cell. It is a balancing act and one that thankfully has many eyes observing it to the best of their ability.

Side effects.

Every drug has side effects. Our everyday aspirin for our headaches thins the blood for example this may be great for people with heart disease but definitely bad for people with anaemia. The medical thinking behind giving someone a drug with side effects is: does the gain outweigh the risks?

Understanding how the side effects will impact a patient is extremely important, even for some of the low risk drugs and there is a lot of information around about potential side effects.

For all their skills and experience doctors don't know everything about how a drug will affect you personally. The only person who can inform them is you. So, you and the doctor need to have an honest chat to each other before any new drug is prescribed and no new medication should be introduced without both of you talking about the possible side effects and you understanding any triggers that should stop you taking that drug.

What you need to know before you go to the doctors:

1. The current medication and doses you are taking.

Write down on a piece of paper your current medication, doses and times to take it. This will not only help you and your doctor during routine examinations but can be vital if you are in an medical emergency. ​ (if you have a smart phone in both  iPhone and Android you can set up a medical ID which doctors can get to if you are having an emergency without unlocking your phone).  

2. Make sure you understand the medication you are taking, 

Read through the brochures and the official information online so you  have a good understanding of your medication. Ask your doctor and in particular ask and listen to your chemist 's advice They are invaluable sources of information on drugs side effects and potential conflicts with other medication 

3. Ask questions if you don't understand something. Including those Latinate words they constantly litter their information with. 

You need to know, the doctors and chemists can tell you. So ask. Sometimes it will only be you that knows the full breadth of your medication and how your body experiences them so you need to know what those long words mean just incase that one definition has significance. 

4. Go through the information with a family member or someone close to you .

Having another pair of eyes on the information helps us understand is better. But there is another reason why we should involve our loved ones.  

5. Make sure you know how the medication will effect you, and those around you. 

There are some drugs that will prevent you from driving. there are some that increase the risk of depression, there are some that lower the sex drive. ​There may be good reasons for taking these drugs and there may be alternatives that prevent these side effects or consequences. You and your family need to know these things, especially the common side effects, as they will impact you and those around you. 

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