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Look Inside Young Adult Road Map

4 Guiding Star Point

4 Guiding Star Point four: Manage Information Various smartphone apps also allow patients to track medication usage. The main thing is to keep it simple and make sure it fits your style. N V R L 8 Preventing Confusion About Drug Samples Sometimes the doctor will titrate a new medication (build up from a smaller to a larger dose over a period of days or weeks). This is done to find out what amount works best or to cut down on possible side effects. Some medications need to build up in the body over days or weeks to be effective. In a crisis, a doctor may prescribe an extra medication (for a short time) to keep symptoms under control until another medication has time to build up to a therapeutic dose. If a new medication is being tried (especially if the medication is expensive), the provider may start you with free samples. He or she may say something such as, “Take 10 milligrams for the first three days, then raise it to 20 milligrams for a week, then call and let me know how it’s going.” The trouble is that a sample package does not have your dosage on the label the way a regular prescription would. It’s easy to get confused, especially when you are changing the dosage from day to day. Be sure you know the dosage of pills in the sample package. Keeping a Titration Record Ask the provider to write down instructions for titrating medications. If you’re getting a prescription, ask the doctor to write titration instructions on the prescription form. This will help to ensure that you get the right number of pills from the pharmacy. If a medicine is being titrated (gradually increased over days or weeks), you will need to keep the dosage straight and observe results. Here is a five-point plan for keeping things straight: 1. An easy method for keeping track of titration doses is to use the inexpensive calendar you put in the front of your binder (see page 45). 2. In each day block, write the medication name and correct dose for that day (example: 5 mg at breakfast, 5 mg before bed). 3. Put a check by the medication name when that dose is taken. 4. At the end of the day or the next day, you can jot down a few words about side effects and results, such as “Less appetite. Got all homework done without prompting.” 5. This gives you a simple and accurate day-to-day record of how the medicine worked at different levels. At the next appointment, you can show this calendar page to the doctor. Various smartphone apps also allow patients to track medication usage. The main thing is to keep it simple and make sure it fits your style. 48

Get to Know Your Pharmacist l A good pharmacist could be your single best source of information about medications. Most are willing to spend time making sure you have all the facts. Pharmacists also know a lot about your prescription drug insurance. l Use the same pharmacy location each time you fill your prescription(s). If that’s not possible, use the same chain. The stores in one chain will usually use the same computer system to hold patient prescriptions. If your insurance requires you to use a “mail-order” pharmacy, there is usually a toll-free number to call with questions. Ask about automated refill services. l Look before you leave. Look on the bottle or with the packaging that comes with your medications. Always check the label on the medicine bottle to make sure the details match the prescription form. If the doctor sends the information to the pharmacy electronically, without giving you a prescription form, ask for a copy of the form before you leave. l Find out about generics. Pharmacists may substitute the less expensive, “generic” version for a name-brand drug. That’s fine so long as the doctor has not marked “name brand only” on the prescription. Also, look at the drug information inside the prescription envelope, medicine box, or flyer. l Ask the pharmacist about side effects, even if the doctor has already mentioned them. A busy doctor may not tell you everything (or know everything) about a medication. Unlike health practices, pharmacies usually can answer questions on nights and weekends and will get right on the phone with you. Often, they can also call doctors’ offices directly and get answers more quickly. 49