Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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Resources for People Living with Diabetes

Taking Medication

Taking medications helps lower your risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney damage by managing blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels in your body. Diabetes is a progressive disease so the longer you have diabetes, the more help you will need from medications to keep you and your heart, eyes and kidneys healthy.

Your healthcare provider helps by choosing the right medications for you, but you play the most important role. Make sure you understand your medication plan so you can take your medicines in the right way and at the right time, every day. 

Making Your Meds Work for You

  • Keep a list of all your current medications
    • Include all prescription and non-prescription medications in your list.This includes herbal remedies, vitamins and other products purchased without a prescription.
    • A medication list provides valuable information for your health care team. Be sure to include the name, dose and time you take each one.
  • Fill your prescription
    • Filling your prescription immediately after your appointment starts you on the path to better health.
    • Work with your pharmacist to find affordable medication options, send refill reminders and streamline the timing of refills. If you don’t understand or forget what the medication is for, ask your pharmacist when picking them up.
  • Take your medication at the right time
    • Create a daily routine for taking and tracking your medications.
    • Find the best times to take your medications so they will work best for you. Ask your diabetes care team about the time of day, spacing between doses, pairing medication times with your daily schedule and grouping medications that may be taken together
  • Share your medication beliefs and concerns
    • Did Taking your medicine have positive effects on your health?
    • Did your medicine cause low blood glucose (hypoglycemia)?
    • Are you concerned about the number of pills you must take every day?
    • Is your medication plan too complicated for your lifestyle?

Talk to your diabetes care team to learn more about the skills and actions needed to better reach your health goals. These conversations may include whether the medication’s value to your heart outweighs its cost ([LINK TO] Reducing Risk); and will the expected improvement in blood glucose ([LINK TO] Monitoring) balance the potential emotional stress ([LINK TO] Healthy Coping) of taking another medication. 

Checklist of Knowledge and Skills 

  • Amount of medication to take, best times to take it and how often to take it
  • Whether you need to take it with food or on an empty stomach
  • How the medication works and how to monitor to see if it is effective
  • Any side effects to report
  • What to do if you experience a problem
  • What to do if you miss a dose of medication or are delayed in taking it
  • How to store the medication so it keeps its effectiveness over time

You can also download a tip sheet on taking medication – including sample questions to ask your doctor about any new medications – here:

English Version

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Spanish Version

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Living with Diabetes