Overview

Medicines and how to manage them

If you have a health condition, you might be taking multiple medicines. Medicines can include tablets, capsules, liquids, creams, eye drops or injections.

When you take more than one medicine, it can sometimes be complicated to manage them. It's not always easy to remember what medicine you take for which condition. You might have side effects but not know which medicine has caused the problem. It might also be difficult to tell if problems are because of the medicine, or are a symptom of your condition.

Some side effects from medicines can also make you more likely to have a fall.

This information is for people taking medicines to understand what support is available.

The NHS website has information about specific medicines on medicines A to Z.

Tips to manage your medicines

It's important to take medicines safely but it can be more difficult to do this when you take many different medicines. The following tips can help.

Do

  • keep a list of medicines that you take
  • always read the leaflet that comes with the medicine
  • keep the packaging of your medicine until you have finished taking it
  • avoid stockpiling medicines. You can return any medicines you do not want or need to your local pharmacy
  • check with your GP or pharmacist that it's safe to take new medicines (including any you buy) with your regular medicines
  • use a dosette box, which arranges your tablets by date and time, to help you remember if you've taken your medicines

Reviewing your medicines

It's important to review the medicines you take every year if you are aged over 75. If you take 4 or more medicines, it might be every 6 months.

The aim of the medicine review is to check if:

  • the amount of medicine that you take (the dose) still helps you
  • you have any side effects
  • you can take the medicines effectively

Depending on which medicines you take, you might also have blood tests.

Arranging a medicine review

The medicine review is usually done by a pharmacist from your GP practice but can sometimes be done by another healthcare professional.

If you take multiple medicines, are aged over 75 or have a certain health condition, then you might be contacted for a review.

However, you can also ask your GP practice for a review, if you feel you need it.

What to expect

Your medicine review might be on the phone or in person. To prepare, you should:

The pharmacist will let you know what will happen next and if you need a follow up appointment.

Asking about new medicines

If you are prescribed a new medicine, you should have the chance to ask questions. It's important that you understand:

  • how the medicine works
  • how to take the medicine
  • how the medicine might affect you

If you're staying in hospital, you can talk to someone in your hospital team or your ward pharmacist. Your GP or local pharmacy can also help.

Our medicines helpline is here to support you if you were prescribed medicines at our hospitals and have questions about your medicines.

We have a list of questions that you can ask about your medicines.

Support from your pharmacy

Some local pharmacies have services and schemes that can support you with your medicines. Please check with your pharmacist if they offer the following services.

The NHS website has more information about how your pharmacy can help.

New Medicine Service (NMS)

This service can give you extra help and advice if you are starting a new medicine for one of the conditions listed on the NHS website.

You can talk to the community pharmacist about your new medicine. This gives you the chance to ask questions about side effects. You can also ask how to take the medicine in a way that suits your lifestyle or daily routine.

Discharge medicine service

If you were recently discharged from hospital, you could benefit from the discharge medicine service. This puts you in touch with a community pharmacist who looks at all the medicines that you take. You can talk to them about:

  • any new medicines that we gave you in hospital
  • any changes that we made to your medicines during your hospital stay
  • all of your medicines and how best to take them

The community pharmacist explains what each medicine is for, any common side effects and how to take it safely.

Read more about the discharge medicine service.

Resource number: 5319
Last reviewed: September 2022
Next review: September 2025

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