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Written by Amanda Green.
Are you one of the 40% of Australians above the age of 50, who are taking five or more medications a day? If you are, you may be twice as likely to a report a side effect or other medication-related issue.
Well, when you are combining multiple medications, otherwise known as polypharmacy, there can sometimes be a risk that they can interact with other in unexpected ways. That is, one medication may influence another medication to potentially give you unwanted side effects, or it may even decrease the overall effect of a medication.
So what can do you to better manage your medications? Take a look below at some of the following suggestions:
1. Know your medications
The first step is to know your medications. Simple things like knowing their names and what they look like will help to avoid medication dosing errors. You can also read the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI), available from your pharmacist, doctor or on your MedAdvisor profile, to find out more about how your medications work.
2. Use MedAdvisor
MedAdvisor is a free app that connects you to your local pharmacy and gives you an automatic list of your medications. Through MedAdvisor, you can receive reminders about when to take each medication, when to visit your pharmacy and when to see your doctor for a new script. You can even order your medications in advance from the pharmacy, avoiding any potential waiting times.
3. Try Webster Packs
Most pharmacies offer a Webster packing service, for a small fee, which involves a pharmacy packing your medications into a weekly blister pack, with four separate dosing times. This is usually breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime. Webster packs can make it easier for you to see what you have and haven't taken throughout the day.
4. Have a Home Medicines Review
A home medicines review involves an accredited pharmacist visiting you in your home, and talking to you about your medications. It is usually your doctor that requests the visit, and the pharmacist will report back with any recommendations on how to optimise your routine. Your doctor will then discuss these recommendations with you. This service is funded by the Australian Government so there is no cost to you, expect the usual fee that may be associated with seeing your doctor.
5. Ask your pharmacist for a MedsCheck
A MedsCheck is a free service offered at most pharmacies which involves a review of your medications by a pharmacist. The aim of a MedsCheck is to identify any issues you may be experiencing with your medications, and to increase your knowledge and confidence in using your medications. Unlike a Home Medicines Review, it does not require a referral from your doctor but your doctor may be notified if any medication issues are discovered during the process.
If you think any of the above services could be of use to you, or you would like more information, speak to your pharmacist or doctor today.
This post was written by Amanda Green. Amanda is a pharmacist with more than 10 years of both hospital and community pharmacy experience. She is a mother of two young children and is passionate about health and fitness.