With many people in the U.S. filling at least 12 prescriptions a year and the annual averages for those over the age of 65 surpassing 40 a year in some states, there is an increased need for thoughtful and organized management of these prescription pills.

In one recent study, researchers found that mis-identification of pills led to an increased risk of hospitalization and worse health outcomes. 

In results printed in the Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives, researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago studied high blood pressure patients and their identification strategies for managing and identifying their pills, as well as their self-reported rates of hospitalization and visits to the emergency room.

Those patients who identified their pills by shape, size, or color, instead of name showed worse rates of blood pressure control and increased risk of hospitalization. Since generic medications often change their shape or color, these researchers instead cautioned patients to identify their prescription pills specifically by name.

Instead of relying on the shape, color, or size of a pill, implement some organization strategies to help you better identify and manage your pills. 

Some organization strategies based on guidance from MedlinePlus include:

  • Purchasing a pill organizer with the input and guidance of your pharmacist–look for those that are split between days and times of the day
  • Using an automatic pill dispenser to help you manage your medications
  • Asking a trusted friend or family member to help you organize your pills by name in the appropriate organizer on the first day of each week
  • Creating a detailed list of all the medications you take, with exact names, doses, purpose, and any side effects
  • Talking to your doctor or pharmacist about concerns or questions you have about your pill intake

How do you manage your pills? Do you have any tried and true tips that allow you to stay better organized and aware of which ones you are taking? 

Image by trOtt3r via Flickr 

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