If you are taking medications to manage your diabetes, here are a few medication tips that you may not know about to help keep you on track with your regimen. Remember though, always talk with your healthcare team about any changes you’d like to make to your medication schedule – they can help you decide what’s best for you!
1. Do you understand your drug regimen?
If you are taking multiple medications every day, ask your doctor or pharmacist what your medications do, when you should take them, and how best to take them (for example: with or without food; morning or evening, etc.). Keep a written or computerized list so that you always have a current copy of your medication regimen; share the document with a family member or friend, in case of emergency.
2. Can you simplify your drug regimen?
Some medications are available in long-acting or extended-release formulations. The active ingredients in regular diabetes medications are usually released within 15 to 30 minutes of when they are taken; often, they are prescribed to be taken three or four times a day. The active ingredients in extended-release medications are released over a much longer period of time and are usually taken only once or twice a day. Metformin, one of the most commonly used medications to treat diabetes, is available in a long-acting formulation (its trade name is Glumetza®); regular metformin is taken three times per day; however the long-acting formulation is taken only once per day.
3. Can you combine your drug regimen?
A number of commonly used medications to treat diabetes are available in combinations. Here are some examples of combination drugs that are available in Canada:
- Avandamet® (metformin plus rosiglitazone)
- Janumet® (metformin plus sitagliptin)
- Jentadueto® (metformin plus linagliptin)
- Avandaryl® (glimepiride plus rosiglitazone)
4. Do you have a medication routine?
Establish and stick to a routine, and find triggers to help you remember. For medications taken in the morning, leave them beside your toothbrush, or put them on the kitchen table so you’ll remember to take them before or after breakfast (for safety’s sake, be sure that you’re meds have child-proof lids). For medications taken in the evening, leave them by your bedside. You can also use your smartphone to set reminders, or use the Diabetes Care Community’s medication reminder tool! If you’re the forgetful type, print out this tool to make a chart with all your daily medications listed, and check off when you’ve taken them; then you’ll know whether – or not! – you’ve taken your meds.
5. Can you divide and conquer?
Use pill boxes or dosettes to split your meds into daily and time of day compartments (morning, afternoon, evening) to help you remember when to take your meds. In fact, many pharmacies will package medications in ‘compliance’ or ‘convenience’ packs: all medications taken at a specific time of day are blister-packed together on a medication card. Talk to your pharmacist about making a personalized convenience pack for your meds.
6. Are you storing your medications safely?
Know which of your medications are susceptible to either cold or heat, and store them accordingly. For information about medication storage in the summer heat, click here. For information about drugs left in the freezing cold, click here.