Taking Your Diabetes Medications on a Regular Schedule
People who have diabetes often need to take medicine to help control their blood sugar levels. You might take one or more types of medicine in a pill form, and you may also need to take insulin or a similar medicine as a shot (injection). Taking your medicine as your doctor directs will become an important part of your treatment plan, along with diet and exercise.
Why a Medication Schedule is Important
It's important to understand how often and when you'll need to take your medication. Your doctor will give you this information. This will help your blood sugar levels stay as steady as possible.
Generally, if you miss a dose, you should take it when you realize you've missed it. Otherwise, your blood sugar could rise. If you're very close to your next dose, however, you should wait so you don't get too much medication. This could lower your blood sugar too much. Your doctor will give you specific information about the medications you take, and the printed information you get from the pharmacy will often describe what to do if you miss a dose.
Tips for Maintaining a Schedule
It’s important to take your medicines on a regular schedule. This might be harder if you’re taking several different types, but there are several things you can do to make it easier:
Keep your medicine visible - Keep your medications in the same place so you’ll know exactly where they are. If you take medication in the morning or at bedtime, for example, you may want to store it on your nightstand. Just make sure it’s out of the reach of young children.
Establish a routine - It can help to pair taking your medication with another regular routine. If you take one in the morning, for example, you might take it right after you brush your teeth or just before breakfast.
Set alarms - Use your cell phone or watch to sound an alarm to remind you when to take your medicine.
Use a pill organizer - A pill organizer can help you keep track of your oral medications. It has divided sections, one for each day of the week. If you’re unsure whether you’ve taken a dose or not, a pill organizer will help you easily verify this information.
Prepare for times when you're away from home - Make sure you have the supplies you need when you’re at work or school. Some pharmacies can put medicine in blister packs that let you take smaller amounts with you.
Talk with your doctor and diabetes care team - If you’ve having trouble managing your medication, talk to your doctor, pharmacist and diabetes care team. They can make suggestions to help, and your doctor also may be able to alter your medication schedule slightly if needed. Changes should never be made without your doctor’s OK, however.
Prepare for refills - Make sure you don’t run out of your medicine. Mail order pharmacies can deliver multiple months worth of medication at one time. Many pharmacies will let you sign up to automatically refill your prescriptions so you don’t risk running out. Others may be able to call you when a medication is almost due for a refill.
Use only one pharmacy - It's best to use only one pharmacy location for your prescriptions. The pharmacist will then have access to all the medicines you're taking and will be able to warn you about any possible interactions between different medications.
Planning is Key
Medication is an important tool in managing your diabetes. Establishing a routine that works best for your schedule will help reduce the possibility that you’ll miss a dose, so you don't lose the important health benefits you receive from your medications.