Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Key Tips for Staying on Track with Medications

These tips were circulating on a couple of cystic fibrosis (CF) message boards and I thought they were  excellent so wanted to share them with you.

These tips are good for not only us parents, but also important things to teach our kids, too. I am sharing them with my 11 and 13 year olds who both have CF. We are working on getting them ready to manage their own clinic visits. My 13 year old will probably be talking alone with the doctors in about a year. This is part of the "transition process" which is preparing our kids for the real world including that of managing their illness on their own. We'll be writing more about this in the weeks to come.

For kids, I especially like the tip about taping a pill to the medication list so that it can be easily identified. I noticed that, during clinic, my kids sometimes struggle a little with the different names of the drugs (especially when there are brand names plus generic names) but can readily identify what they look like. This will help them learn what the different meds are. They both take about 15 different meds each day including supplements so this is no small thing! We are also working on memorizing the dosages.

Dr. Lorraine J. Gudas and Dr. Mark S. Lachs offered these key tips on how to stay on track with your medications and steer clear of unsafe drug interactions at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center's 29th Annual Women's Health Symposium:

  • Keep a list of your medications with you at all times.
  • Make sure to include brand AND generic names as well as dosages and frequency. Include all vitamins and supplements on the list.
  • Share the list with every health care provider you come in contact with, whether or not he or she suggests new medicines or medicine changes.
  • Never mix medications in the same bottle even if traveling; taping an actual pill to your medication list can help you identify which medicine is which.
  • When you hear about a new drug or a health tip, ask yourself: Is this based on a clinical trial, an observational study, or only personal endorsements?
  • Don't make health decisions on the basis of observational studies. They are interesting to think about, but they don't prove anything.
  • If you are thinking of buying a supplement or drug, ask your doctor's opinion. Don't take them on the basis of personal testimony.
Dr. Lorraine J. Gudas is chairman and Revlon Pharmaceutical Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the Department of Pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Dr. Mark S. Lachs is director of geriatrics at NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System and author of "Treat Me, Not My Age."

Lisa C. Greene is the mother of two children with cystic fibrosis, a certified parent coach, parenting educator, and public speaker. She is also the co-author with Foster Cline, MD of the award-winning Love and Logic® book “Parenting Children with Health Issues.”   For more information, visit

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