Medication errors are common in diabetics. The habit of missing a dose can put your blood sugar control in jeopardy, subsequently adding to your risk of diabetic complications. On the other hand, taking an extra dose may cause your blood sugar to fall too low. Most people with type 2 diabetes do not understand how important it is to stick to their medication regimen. Statistics show that at least 50% of people with diabetes fail to achieve ideal blood sugar levels, and one of the major reasons behind this is found to be poor compliance with medications.
Let’s explore the common medication mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Not taking your medications on time.
Forgetting to take your diabetes medications on time or as pescribed by your doctor can cause abrupt blood sugar spikes. Your diabetic pill may be a timed release, which dissolves slowly into your blood but will maintain your blood sugar levels only for a certain amount of time. So, if you forget to take your medicine on time, your blood sugar may rise. Likewise, if you take your dose earlier than the recommended time, your blood sugar levels may drop too low.
Solution:Stick to your medication timetable. If forgetfulness is a concern, you can set reminders such an alarm on your smartphone or a “pill reminder” app that enables you to enter and track your medicine’s list, their dosage, and timings. Another tip is to tie in the timing of your medication dose with a daily chore. For instance, if the timing for your medicine is before breakfast, you can keep your medicine on the breakfast table. This will help you remember to take the medicine on time.
If you miss a dose, ask your doctor if you should take it as soon as you remember, or take the next dose as scheduled. If it’s just about time for the next dose, it’s wise not to take the missed dose as this can double up the side effects.
2. Having a complacent attitude
It’s a natural thing to become complacent with your meds as soon as you start feeling better. Seeing that your blood sugar readings have been stable for days may cause you to wrongly assume that diabetes has been cured. As a result, you stop taking the meds, which raises your blood sugar levels.
Solution: Don’t quit taking your diabetes medications unless advised by your doctor. Know that diabetes is a life-long disease and once started, you’ll have to take the medicines for life.
3. Stopping your meds due to unpleasant side effects
Another mistake made my most diabetics is quitting their meds after experiencing unpleasant side effects. These side effects include but are not limited to nausea, vomiting, weight gain, and a frequent, excessive drop in the blood sugar levels.
Solution: Don’t quit over side effects. Instead, discuss the side effects with your doctor. There are several medication options for diabetes. Your doctor may be able to switch your current medication to a different one with fewer side effects.
4. Mixing up your medications
The dosing regimens of your diabetes meds may be pretty complex. In the beginning, your doctor will put you on one type of medication. However, with the passage of time, you’ll likely need more than one prescription to control the high blood sugar values and related symptoms.
You may also be taking medicines for high blood pressure and cholesterol levels — conditions that often co-exist with diabetes. With such a complex regimen, it’s not unusual to confuse a blood pressure pill with a diabetes pill. Mixing up can be a double whammy as you’ll not only skip your routine dose but the extra (and wrong) medication dose is taken will also add up to the risk of serious side effects.
Similarly, you may be given two different types of insulin to tackle your blood sugars. Each distinct type has a different onset of action (i.e., it will start working after a set time). For example, short-acting insulin is formulated to bring down your blood sugar faster than the long-acting types and is given before or after meals. It is not designed to be taken at bedtime. However, you may mistakenly grab and inject the short-acting insulin vial (in place of the long-acting) close to your bedtime, causing your blood sugar to drop too low.
Solution: Consider using a pill organizer, which has separate compartments to put the pills for each day and time (morning versus evening). Carefully mark the pillbox as to what type of pill is inside each compartment.
If you have any questions about your medications or simply need to update your reminder time, send a quick message to your Care Team Member for some quick guidance and support.