Do You Have Diabetes? Take Your Medicine Safely.

Managing diabetes involves making healthy food choices, being active and, for some people, taking medicine.

If you are taking medications to help manage your diabetes, it can be confusing to know when and how often to take them. You might also be afraid of side effects, have a hard time remembering to take your medicines, or stop taking them because you feel better or don’t know if they are working.

Talk to your doctor or other members of your health care team to better understand your medications. Here are some questions you can ask:

  1. What is the name of the medicine and what is it supposed to do?
  2. Why did you choose this particular medicine for me?
  3. What are the possible side effects I should look out for? How can I prevent them?
  4. How soon should I expect the medicine to begin to work? How will I know if it’s working?

Other tips to help you take medicines safely include using a pill box to keep your medicines organized. It can also be easier to remember to take your medicines when you take them with another daily activity, such as in the morning when you brush your teeth or eat breakfast. If you have a smartphone, set a daily alarm on your phone or download an app that will remind you to take your medicines and when to get them refilled. Ask a loved one for help if you need it.

Your health care team can also help. Ask if you can get all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy and if refills can be planned for the same time of the month. If timing is a problem, ask if it is okay to take the medicine at a different time. For example, if you forget to take your medicine before you eat, ask if you can take it after the meal. The important thing to remember is that your healthcare team can’t help you if they don’t know you are having problems with how to take your medicine or know you have concerns about taking a medicine.

Visit the National Diabetes Education Program’s Promoting Medication Adherence in Diabetes web resource ( to find online tools and handouts to help you learn how to better manage your medications.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the support of more than 200 partner organizations.