Pill reminders – Can they help you take your pills on time?

pill reminders

Pill reminder and pill-tracking app is the new mantra used by researchers to improve medication adherence in patients.  

A 2016 poll conducted by Popit Research Labs showed that around 40% of voters relied on their memory to track their pill usage while almost 60% used some form of external pill reminder. Also, multiple studies are suggesting the rise in medication non-adherence due to forgetfulness. There is clearly a need for an external source to keep track of one’s medication usage.

pill reminders

Popit Research Labs, 2016

Do pill reminders work?

With the rise in pill reminder solutions, the first question that pops into your mind is – Do pill reminders actually help? Can they help you take your medications on time? 

According to a randomised clinical trial done in 2018, to check the impact of medication reminder apps to improve medication adherence in a Coronary Heart Disease study, adherence improvement for app users seemed to be ~7.2%. It was concluded that patients who used medication reminder apps had better medication adherence compared to those with usual care.

A study by Cochrane on interventions for medication adherence in the elderly concluded that behavioural and educational interventions along with the aid of simple strategies such as using pill reminders may lead to greater satisfaction in medication management in the elderly.

In a poll conducted by Popit, almost 50% of the users confirmed they have some kind of reminders for pills and they find these useful in tracking their pills for birth control. In a clinical pilot together with a leading university hospital, their pill reminder solution was able to reduce missed pills by over 80% and help build a solid routine around pill-taking.

pill reminders

Popit Research Labs, 2016

Which is the most effective pill reminder?

With the internet being flooded with various pill reminders apps and medication trackers, how do you know if these are effective or not?  Does it really make sense to invest in one? If yes, then which one?

Pill dispensers are cheap, but using a pill dispenser is more or less relying on your memory. On the other hand, smartphone alarms are free, but most people end up ignoring these alarms as constant notifications can get annoying after a while.

smart sensing device could be another option that you can rely on. This is the world’s first and only tracker for a pill blister that comes with built-in sensors. It can sense when you pop a pill off the blister and notifies you only when you miss a pill. Which means, if you take the pill, you don’t get the daily annoying reminders. Also, there is no manual input needed to keep a track of your pill usage. 

We compiled a comparison chart so you can evaluate which solution is best for you.

pill reminders

Pill Reminders

How do pill reminders help?

Medication cannot work as intended if it is not taken as prescribed. Consistency and taking pills according to guidance play a key role in any treatment.

Some of the cases where pill reminders have proven to be beneficial include:

1. Avoiding unwanted pregnancy 

pill reminders

The risk of pregnancy with a typical birth control pill use is 9% and the pill is 99% efficient only when used perfectly.

By perfect use, it means you have to take the pill every day without fail. You must also take it at the same time day after day. In a recent survey conducted by Popit, more than 1 in 12 women on the pill may have experienced an unintended pregnancy due to missing a pill.

2. Medication adherence in chronic health conditions

Medication non-adherence in chronic health conditions is a recognized public health problem. According to a study conducted by NCBI on unintentional non-adherence of prescribed medication, more than 60% of the test group forgot to take their pills on time.

3. Improved parental or caregiver medication adherence 

To keep a track of someone’s medication is more challenging than managing one’s own treatment. You can easily manage this when you have an app that can notify you whenever they miss their pills.

So, do you need one?

Pill Reminders

Evolution of pill reminders

From the humble reminders such as markings on a calendar to smart sensing devices, pill reminders have evolved over the years. This also confirms the need for an external source to track pill usage apart from relying on one’s memory. Multiple studies are also supporting this claim saying it could be one of the ways to improve adherence in patients.

Pill reminder solutions are usually a one time purchase and cost less than a good pair of sneakers. They are the most reliable alternative to ensuring you take your medicines on time and stay on track. These can also be a thoughtful gift for your loved ones. For, after all, there is no greater gift that you can give or receive than to stay healthy or investing in the good health of your loved ones. 

(In a clinical pilot – DOI: 10.15761/COGRM.1000217, conducted by a team of doctor’s including Henna Kärkkäinen, MD, Ph.D, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Heikki Matero Ph.M, Janne Sahlman MD, Ph.D at the Kuopio University Hospital, it was concluded that an on-demand reminder system increases adherence of birth control pill users. More details regarding this study can be found here. )

What Is Hypothyroidism? 10 Signs You May Have It

In order to understand the answer to the question, “What is hypothyroidism?” you need a basic understanding of the thyroid gland and how it regulates your body. Your body contains many glands, and they are all responsible for regulating different systems throughout the body.

Shaped like a butterfly, the thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck and produces the hormones which are primarily responsible for regulating your body’s metabolism (the processes with which your body converts food into energy).

What Is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism, also commonly called underactive thyroid, is a condition in which the thyroid gland upsets the body’s natural chemical balance by not producing enough hormones to effectively regulate the body’s metabolism.

Hypothyroidism can lead to several secondary health concerns

Over time when left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to several secondary health concerns such as obesity, heart disease, peripheral neuropathy, infertility and joint pain.

10 Signs You May Have Hypothyroidism

In its early stages, hypothyroidism’s mild symptoms sometimes go unnoticed, ignored or are improperly diagnosed. If you have hypothyroidism, you might notice the following the signs and symptoms affecting your everyday life:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Unexplained weight gain
  3. Weak, aching muscles and joints
  4. Feeling cold
  5. Constipation
  6. Itchy, dry skin
  7. Hair loss
  8. Heavy or irregular menstrual cycles
  9. Depression
  10. Reduced memory and concentration

Hypothyroidism Causes and Diagnosis

Hypothyroidism has several underlying causes, including:

  • Medications – Certain medications have the ability to affect the thyroid gland’s proper function.
  • Autoimmune Disease – Several autoimmune diseases can lead to hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, for example, occurs when the body’s immune system causes increased inflammation of the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism.
  • Congenital Disease – An inherited disorder, babies, sometimes, are born with incorrectly developed thyroid glands or no thyroid glands.
  • Iodine Deficiency or Excess – Iodine is necessary for the proper function of the thyroid gland. Taking in too little or, conversely, too much iodine can cause hypothyroidism.
  • Pregnancy Disorder – Women sometimes develop hypothyroidism following or during pregnancy because their immune systems begin producing an antibody to their thyroid glands, leading to inflammation.
  • Pituitary Disorder – One of the rarer causes of hypothyroidism, pituitary disorder occurs when the pituitary gland does not produce enough thyroid-stimulating hormone (the substance which stimulates the thyroid gland to produce hormones).
  • Thyroid Surgery – Sometimes surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland is necessary, which leads to hypothyroidism.
  • Radiation Therapy – When used to treat cancers in the head, neck and upper chest, radiation therapy can have adverse effects on the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism.

Although anyone can develop hypothyroidism, some might be predisposed to the condition, including:

  • Women over age 60
  • Individuals with a family history of thyroid issues
  • Women who have been pregnant or delivered a baby within the last six months
  • Those with an autoimmune disease
  • Those who have received radiation or radioactive iodine treatments
  • Those who have had thyroid surgery

If you think you might have hypothyroidism, your doctor will likely perform a physical examination, order blood tests, and he or she might also order an imaging scan of your thyroid gland. In case you get diagnosed, check out our article on how to deal with hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is most commonly treated by addressing the underlying condition and with medications to supplement hormones. When being treated with medications, it is necessary to follow your treatment regimen exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Nowadays there are sophisticated, inexpensive smart tools that help you stay on track.

How To Deal With Hypothyroidism – 5 Quick Tips

how to deal with hypothyroidism

In addition to dealing with the unpleasant symptoms of living with an underactive thyroid gland, a lengthy process of finding the right treatment regimen (and sticking with it for life) follows an underactive thyroid diagnosis. The following five tips on how to deal with hypothyroidism will help you get on the right track for enjoying a lifetime of good health and happiness.

How to Deal with Hypothyroidism: Our Top 5 Tips

1. Take Medication as Directed

Medication, containing either synthetic or extracted hormones to balance the hormones in your body, is the most common and effective treatment for hypothyroidism. One of the most important things to remember while taking thyroid medications is, it must be taken exactly as prescribed.

In order to restore your body’s hormonal balance and regulate your body’s metabolism, natural cycles and circadian rhythm, thyroid medications must be taken exactly as prescribed and at the same time each day. You cannot skip, reduce or increase your dose unless of course, your doctor instructs you to do so. There are a lot of tools available for avoiding any missed pills, from the humble smartphone alarm to the smart pill tracker solution.

For the most consistent and effective treatment results, you should also pay attention to directions regarding whether or not you are supposed to take medications on an empty stomach; food can sometimes affect the way the body absorbs thyroid medications.

2. Be Patient While Finding the Right Dose

Sometimes, it will take a couple of adjustments before you find exactly the right dose of medication to supplement the hormones in your body. Taking too much medication can lead to unpleasant side effects. While starting thyroid medication you may experience side effects such as:

  • heart palpitations
  • increased appetite
  • nervousness
  • sweating
  • shakiness
  • insomnia

Depending on your medical history and other medical conditions, your doctor might choose to start you on a lower dose of medication for hypothyroidism.

After about a month of treatment, your doctor will want to discuss your progress and will ask you to take a follow-up blood test to monitor the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone in your bloodstream. Depending on these results, you might be given a lower or higher dose.

3. Eat a Balanced Diet

Although there is no official “hypothyroidism diet,” eating a well-balanced diet of unprocessed, whole foods will minimize toxins while providing your body’s cells with all of the necessary nutritional tools they need to function efficiently. Focus on eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.

4. Talk with Your Doctor about Supplements

Tell your doctor if you take any multivitamins or supplements, as some (including certain herbs, iodine, fiber, iron and calcium) can interfere with hypothyroid treatment. You should also avoid over-the-counter products claiming to be “natural” thyroid treatments; since the FDA does not regulate these products, you cannot really know what they contain.

5. Manage Stress

Dealing with the symptoms of hypothyroidism while trying to find the right treatment for your body can be stressful. Find healthy strategies for coping with symptoms and managing stress. In addition to eating a healthy diet, be sure to get enough sleep and exercise your way to feel-good endorphins with the activity of your choice. Try yoga or meditation classes to calm both your body and mind.

Balanced Hormones for a Balanced Life

Although there is no cure for hypothyroidism, many individuals with under-active thyroid are able to live normal, healthy and happy lives as long as they follow their treatment plans as prescribed.

Starting Thyroid Medication? Here’s What To Expect

starting thyroid medication

Medication for hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) aims to balance the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone (THS) inside your body and as a result, restore your body’s hormones and metabolism to normal levels.

When starting thyroid medication, it’s important to remember that hypothyroidism, has no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. Determining the best medication for a patient and the right dose requires patients to work with their doctors through a process of trial and error, which can sometimes take several weeks or months to get exactly right.

After a patient’s initial hypothyroidism diagnosis, his or her doctor will likely prescribe a low dose of synthetic thyroid hormone (thyroid medication). The doctor will also schedule follow-up blood tests every six to eight weeks after the patient begins medication. During this time, doctors work with patients, adjusting medication dosages, until a healthy level of thyroid stimulating hormone consistently shows up in blood tests.

Once an appropriate dose has been determined, your doctor will likely schedule a six-month follow-up blood test and appointment and then ongoing annual wellness exams to ensure proper treatment.

Potential Side Effects of Starting Thyroid Medication

When starting thyroid medication for an underactive thyroid, it can take some time working with your doctor to determine the exact dose needed to balance your body’s hormone production. Patients who begin with too high of a dose can experience side effects of the medication which feel similar to the symptoms of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). These side effects include:

  • Heat sensitivity
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety and/or nervousness
  • Shaking
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Brittle hair
  • Thin skin
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia

If you experience any of these symptoms after starting a new thyroid medication, changing medication brands or after changing the dose of your thyroid medication, you should speak with your doctor.

Reaching Prescription Perfection Takes Patience

Thyroid medications are categorized as having what is called a narrow therapeutic index, which means that even the slightest differences in dosages can make huge differences inside the body. As a result, your doctor might need to make lots of minor adjustments to your prescription before you feel completely normal and healthy again.

For consistent and effective results, medications with a narrow therapeutic index must be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor, at the same time each day. Also, to ensure proper absorption, these medications should also always be taken on an empty stomach and at least four hours apart from other medications, vitamins and fiber supplements.

Hypothyroidism is, unfortunately, a lifelong condition and usually requires lifelong treatment. After finding the right dose of thyroid medication, certain life changes can affect your body’s chemistry, prompting another period of dose adjustment with your doctor. Physical changes which might lead to an increased or reduced dose include pregnancy, menopause and the natural aging process.

Since everybody is different, every person will respond a little differently to thyroid medication. When starting a new thyroid medication or adjusting your medication dose, you should stay in close contact with your doctor to discuss any physical changes or side effects you experience.

Here are our 5 top tips on how to deal with Hypothyroidism. With a little patience and a daily reminder, individuals with hypothyroidism should be able to find the right dosage and return to living and enjoying life with restored energy and balance.

How To Best Take Medication For Hypothyroidism

how to take thyroid medication

When starting hypothyroid treatment, your doctor should talk with you about how to take thyroid medication. Sticking with the following dos and don’ts will put you on the fast track to feeling better.

How to Take Thyroid Medication: 5 Best Practices

1. Double Check the Pharmacist

Although pharmacies must adhere to high standards, pharmacists still sometimes make mistakes. Thyroid medications work with precision; even the slightest changes or inconsistencies will impact your treatment. When you receive your prescription, make sure you receive the correct:

  • Brand and type of medication (even seemingly insignificant differences between a generic and name brand will affect your treatment)
  • Number of pills and dosage

You should also make sure the pills you receive will not expire before they have been taken.

2. Ask about Drug Interactions

Several hundreds of prescription drugs, over the counter medications, vitamins and supplements react with thyroid medications.

Bring a detailed list of everything you take with you to your doctor appointment and to the pharmacy to be certain you are not taking other medications or supplements which will affect your thyroid treatment plan or which will be unsafe to take in conjunction with thyroid medication.

3. Store Medications Properly

Medications should be stored in a dry, relatively cool location. Exposure to heat and moisture breaks down the active ingredients in your medications, making them less effective. In other words, the medicine cabinet in your bathroom is not a suitable storage location for your thyroid medication.


4. Stick with Your Medication Schedule

Keeping the levels of medication and thyroid stimulating hormone in your body as consistent as possible is paramount to effective treatment. Most doctors recommend taking medications first thing in the morning for the best absorption. Others recommend taking pills before bed at night.

For the best treatment outcome, be sure to remember to take your medication every single day and try to take it at about the same time each day, too.

5. Take Medications on an Empty Stomach

Your body will better absorb thyroid medication when taken on an empty stomach. After taking your medication, wait at least an hour before eating or drinking anything, other than water. If taking medications at bedtime, wait at least three to four hours after your last meal before taking your pill.

Avoid These 4 Mistakes When Taking Thyroid Medication

1. Starting or Stopping Other Medications without Asking Your Doctor

Consistency is key to effective hypothyroid treatment. It is advisable to use a solution to track and – if needed – remind of pills.

Always ask your doctor before starting or stopping any medication or supplement.

2. Consuming Inconsistent Amounts of Fiber

Fiber intake affects the body’s ability to absorb thyroid medication. Sudden changes in the amount of fiber in your diet can adversely affect hypothyroid treatment.

3. Taking Medication with Coffee, Calcium, Iron and/or Iodine

All of these substances block the body’s ability to absorb thyroid medication. While it’s obvious to avoid supplements and foods containing these ingredients, also be wary of foods fortified with calcium and iron and calcium-rich antacid tablets.

4. Changing Brands without Your Doctor’s Consent

Sometimes insurance companies pay more on generic prescriptions, but there is actually a big difference between different brands of thyroid medication. Always speak with your doctor before switching medication brands and take all thyroid medications exactly as prescribed.

When taking thyroid medication, what do you think is the biggest challenge?

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