Drug Adherence - Important for Controlling Infection

Woman Taking Pill. Bruce Laurance / Photodisc / Getty Images

Drug adherence refers to how closely a person is taking their medication to the way in which it was prescribed. Someone who is highly adherent takes their medication on time, as prescribed, every single day. In contrast, a person with lower drug adherence may forget to take one or more pills, may take pills too often, or may stop taking their drugs whenever they feel better - even if the prescription hasn't been completely used up.

Good drug adherence is very important, particularly for people taking antiretroviral medication for HIV or antibiotics for bacterial infections. This is because when drugs are taken incorrectly, there is a risk that drug resistance may develop. Antibiotic resistant gonorrhea is becoming a serious problem around the world. And, for people with HIV, when they have a drug-resistant strain, it reduces their medication options. Their infection becomes harder to treat effectively and efficiently, such as with a single tablet regimen.

Drug adherence is so critical for some infections, such as tuberculosis, that public health officials actively monitor the way that some people take their medication. Without such efforts, antibiotic resistant infections could become even more difficult to treat.

Drug adherence is also important for anyone taking a daily medication, such as oral contraception. If "the pill" isn't taken appropriately, and on time, it's less effective.

Similarly, certain hormonal medications, such as those used to treat hypothyroidism, must be taken on an empty stomach in order to work as expected.

Improving Your Drug Adherence

When your doctor tells you to take a drug in a particular way -- with food, for example, or at least an hour before eating -- she's doing so for a reason.

Medications need to be taken properly to be most effective. That's why it's important to carefully read your pill bottles whenever you get a new prescription, and don't be afraid to ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions about the best way to take a new or existing medication. Things to consider include whether...

  1. You need to take the drug with food
  2. You can't take the drug with any food, or certain foods
  3. You have to wait after taking the drug before eating, drinking, or doing something else, such as washing or going outside
  4. Your medications can be taken at the same time or must be taken separately
  5. There is a specific of day that it makes the most sense to take the medication, for example because it might cause nausea or effect sleep

Taking medication appropriately is an important component of getting healthy... and staying healthy. If you have any questions about how, when, or why to take a prescription or non-prescription medication, don't be afraid to ask. It's in your doctor's or pharmacist's best interest to help you take your medication correctly.

When you do so, it makes their job much easier.

Continue Reading