Feeling well again is not a sign to abandon your treatment plan.
When you start to feel better after taking a prescription medicine, it’s understandable that you’d feel like you can stop. I mean, the medication did its job, right?
Not quite. Your medication is still doing its job—so it’s important to keep taking them. “If you stop taking your medications without checking with your doctor first, it can be dangerous,” says Preeti Parikh, MD, chief medical editor at HealthiNation and pediatrician at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
This is especially true for treating “silent” chronic conditions that don’t have obvious symptoms, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or heart disease. You may feel great on the outside, but when you have conditions like these, your medication is working hard to keep it that way.
With other medications, such as antibiotics that are more short-term, you may see improvement right away. Still, these medicines only work if taken as prescribed, so don’t stop even if you feel better.
Here are some tips to better understand how your medication is working for you, and even if you’re feeling better:
TIP #1: Ask your doctor what you can expect.
With any prescription medicine, it’s wise to discuss your treatment plan with your doctor and ask questions. “Whether you’ve been taking your medications for a long time or just started them, it’s important to understand how it’s working and affecting you,” says Dr. Preeti.
At your next appointment, ask these questions:
How is this medicine working in my body?
What are the side effects?
How long do I have to take this medicine?
How long until I’ll see results?
What if I don’t see results?
What’s the long-term goal of this medication?
What happens if I miss a dose?
Do I have to take the medicine at the same time every day?
Write down any questions or concerns you have before your appointment so you don’t forget.
TIP #2: Understand the risk of stopping your medications.
Even if you feel great, it’s important to continue to take your medications as prescribed. Medications only work if you take them as directed. If you skip doses, elect not to take a prescribed medicine, or take too much, it can be dangerous. For example, if you stop your medications early, you may only partially treat an infection or you increase your risk of your condition worsening.
The benefits of sticking to your medication regimen are:
Better treatment of symptoms
Fewer side effects or drug interactions
A lower likelihood of unnecessary treatments or hospitalizations
Important: If you’re considering stopping your medications for good, be sure to tell your doctor first. Your doctor will let you know whether or not it’s safe to discontinue your medicine. Stopping suddenly can have its own side effects, and it’s important for you to make the decision fully informed about what the disease, untreated, can do to your body over the long-term. Your doctor may also give you alternatives to consider, like a dose adjustment.
Understanding your medications and taking them as directed is just as important to your health as getting enough exercise and eating a nutritious diet. Remember, you and your doctor are a team. Your health is a top priority, and you and your doctor have to work together to find the best treatment plan that works for you.
Preeti Parikh, MD serves as the Chief Medical Officer of HealthiNation. She is a board-certified pediatrician practicing at Westside Pediatrics, is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and is an American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson. She holds degrees from Columbia University and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and has completed post-graduate training at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
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When taking your medications,
sometimes you don't feel the effect or
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sometimes you feel better right away.
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If you're taking medications for silent
chronic conditions such as diabetes,
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heart disease, high cholesterol, you may
not feel the effect of the medications.
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And it's understandable that
you may wanna stop them, but
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if you stop taking the medications
without checking with your doctor first,
00:00:38,750 --> 00:00:40,572
it could be really dangerous.
00:00:40,572 --> 00:00:44,028
Here are some tips to better understand
how your medication is working for you,
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even if you're feeling better.
00:00:45,483 --> 00:00:50,025
00:00:50,025 --> 00:00:53,076
Whether you've been taking your
medications for a long time or just
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started them, it's important to understand
how it's working and affecting you.
00:00:56,893 --> 00:00:59,656
At your next appointment,
ask these questions.
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How is this medicine working in my body?
00:01:02,067 --> 00:01:06,122
How long do I have to take this
medicine and how many times a day?
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How long until I'll see results?
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And what if I do not see results,
when should I came back?
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What's the long-term
goal of this medication?
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What are side effects
that I may experience?
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What happens if they miss a dose?
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It's important to write down all
your questions before the visit and
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during your visit to write
down all the answers, so
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you don't forget this
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Even if you're not feeling the effects or
you're feeling much better, it's really
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important to talk to your doctor
first before stopping the medication.
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It may only partially treat an infection
if you stop your antibiotics too early, or
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it could increase your risk
of that disease worsening or
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even causing hospitalizations.
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Taking your medication as directed is
equally as important as leading a healthy
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00:01:55,470 --> 00:01:56,810
You, your doctor, and
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your pharmacist make a team to make
sure that you're optimizing your health.
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- Shelton R. C. (2001). Steps Following Attainment of Remission: Discontinuation of Antidepressant Therapy. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry, 3(4), 168–174.
- Karachalios GN, Charalabopoulos A, Papalimneou V, Kiortsis D, Dimicco P, Kostoula OK, Charalabopoulos K. Withdrawal syndrome following cessation of antihypertensive drug therapy. Int J Clin Pract. 2005 May;59(5):562-70.