Simple solutions for your MS medications

Having trouble taking your medication? These simple solutions can help you get back on track.

Needle phobia

Learning that you have to take an injection as treatment for your MS can often scare some people. Fear is only natural. Keep in mind that you are not alone - think of people with diabetes and the number of injections they must manage in a day! They get through it and so will you.

Before you start your medication, your doctor will refer you to an MS clinic, where a nurse will show you how to give yourself an injection. Most MS medications are given in what is called a subcutaneous (SC) injection. This involves using a very fine needle that is injected into the fat just under the skin. Most people feel SC injections as a quick, small skin prick. Your annual flu shot hurts more, since flu injections reach much deeper into the muscle.

Even if you feel comfortable after your injection lesson at the clinic, you might find that your confidence decreases at home. Ask your doctor or nurse if there are toll-free help lines for your medication, where you can speak with a nurse who can guide you through the process.

Forgetting your medications

At some point in time, you may be on a number of different medications to help with your MS symptoms. For some people, especially those with a busy schedule of work and family demands, you might have trouble keeping your medications straight - what they were for, when to take them, and whether you have already taken your dose that day. One solution is to ask your pharmacist for help.

Your pharmacist can work with your doctor to streamline your medications so there are fewer or more convenient medications to take (i.e., some MS medications don't require refrigeration). Your pharmacist can help you prepare a medication list for you to keep with you. Pharmacists can also organize your medications into a dosette (a special package with labels for each medication, what it's for, and when to take it). Because there are separate slots for each day, it is easier to see whether you've already taken that day's dose.

You may also need to take your medications with you while running errands or if you need to travel for work. How about scheduling your medication injections into your phone or PDA (personal digital assistant), with an alarm to remind you when it's time for your dose?

A helping hand: when MS symptoms affect you

Having trouble using your medications because of your MS symptoms? Symptoms such as vision problems can make it hard to read medication labels, and tremors and coordination problems can lead to difficulties opening childproof containers or giving injections to yourself.

Your pharmacist can provide your medications in a "snap cap," which is an easy-to-open bottle instead of the childproof ones, or your pharmacist can supply a medication bottle opener. Medications supplied in prefilled syringes can eliminate the need to mix the medication yourself.

If you are also having trouble reading the labels, your pharmacist can print labels in a larger print so that you can read them more easily.

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