7 Reasons Why Your Medications May Not Be Working

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What happens when medication doesn't bring your condition under control? Usually, it’s not just one single issue but various factors that contribute to the problem.  Finding the right combination of medications may require some work. Here are few points to consider. 

1. You may not be taking medications correctly or you could be taking other drugs that interfere with your medications.

Some medications work best when taken at certain times of the day or with special regard to meals. With complicated dosing schedules, people can forget to take medications or not take the correct doses at the correct time. Pill planners or pill boxes can help you to organize your medications and remember if you have taken a dose.

Always check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if your medication has special instructions about when you should take the medication. Other drugs may also interact with your medication, which could change how it works in your body.

Your medication can interact with other items besides prescription drugs, such as vitamins, herbal products, or dietary supplements. Keeping your doctor or pharmacist informed about everything you are taking can help to avoid these problems.

2.  You may be eating an improper diet

You may not know this but certain foods can interact with your medications.  These foods can impact how your body takes in medication or how the medication works to control your condition. Parts of your diet may also interact with your condition to reduce the effect of your medication. A registered dietitian can teach you how to read nutrition labels so you can spot these parts of your diet, such as sodium and carbohydrates, to better manage your intake.

 3. You may have lifestyle factors that impact your health

Being overweight, being physically inactive, or smoking can impact many medical conditions and the way your medications work. Working to lose weight, increasing your physical activity, and moderating your alcohol consumption as needed can help to improve your health in many ways.

If you smoke and can quit, it will lower your overall health risk for heart, lung, and other diseases. Making changes to your lifestyle and lowering your risk for disease may help to control your medical condition and improve the effects of your medication.

4. You could have other medical conditions that are affecting the way your medications work.

Hormonal issues, poor metabolism, poor sleep, high blood pressure, or stomach conditions could change the effect of your medications. It is important to inform all of your doctors about any other conditions you may have to help avoid these problems.

Some of these conditions could change how effective a medication is, and knowing about your other conditions will help your doctor make a plan that is best for you.

5.  You or your doctor’s office could be making mistakes in testing

Misreadings can also happen at your doctor’s office or even in a lab. Make sure your results make sense and discuss results with your doctor since this can affect how your medications work.

Some medications may need regular testing to check that the medication is working safely and effectively, such as insulin for diabetes or blood thinners for some heart conditions. Completing this testing as instructed and on time will help your doctor use this information to adjust your medication plan to work best for you.

Some tests can be sensitive to when you last ate or how your recent health has been, so be sure to discuss instructions for tests with your doctor. 

6. You could benefit from adjustments to your pain management plan

If you are suffering from chronic pain, you may experience occasional pain despite taking a routine medication from your doctor. This type of pain is called breakthrough pain and can sometimes be managed with different medications or adjusting your current medication with your doctor’s help. These medications can be used on an as needed basis for short-term control.

7. You may benefit from using a non-medication treatment option in your plan

Some conditions, such as chronic pain, can improve with the help of other treatment options such as physical therapy, exercise, or localized injections. These other options can work together to restore the effectiveness of your medication and improve your control of your condition. Seeing a doctor who specializes in pain management may help you to find the right plan for you. 

Anita Gupta is an anesthesiologist.