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D.A.I.L.Y. is a joint initiative of the Endocrine Society and its Hormone Health Network.
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Goal 2 | Medication | 3 of 5
Medication Management and the Importance of Adherence
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What is the biggest barrier in maintaining a medication regimen?

“I could use some help getting organized!”

While it may seem like there's not enough time to manage all that you need, there are things you can do to help you remember to take your meds on time every day. Many people find the following tips helpful:

  • Set a clock or cell phone alarm, or leave yourself a note on your refrigerator or by your keys—or both.
  • Use a checklist to manage your dose schedule. You can print out the one on this page and use it. Make sure to make extra copies before you fill it in.
  • Use a pillbox to keep all of your oral medications organized.
  • Keep a diabetes supply kit fully stocked. Your kit should include:
    • Blood-glucose testing supplies (lancet, meter, extra batteries for your meter, alcohol wipes)
    • Oral meds
    • Your injection supplies (if you use insulin or other injectables)
    • Your medication checklist
    • Your emergency contact numbers
    • Quick-acting carbohydrates (e.g., juice), just in case your blood glucose dips too low. Make sure to talk with your doctor about what level is too low.
  • For insulin and other injectables, keep a cooler stocked with freeze-packs. If you get your insulin and other injectables by mail, these ship with your order. Save the cooler and freezer packs for emergency situations and keep them in the freezer (while keeping your insulin and other injectables in the fridge), then take them out and use them in your cooler to keep your insulin and other injectables properly chilled.

“Who has time?!?”

Being away from home can pose a challenge to keeping on track with your diabetes medications. Having a plan will help! Here are some tips for organizing your travel needs to include your diabetes supplies:

  • Plan to have enough of your diabetes supplies with you while you're gone—plus a few days, in case you're delayed.
  • Take written copies of prescriptions from your physician. These can be filled at a pharmacy at your destination if your medications run out.
  • Bring a travel letter from your doctor. This letter should explain that you have diabetes and that your medications and supplies are used for that purpose.
  • Consider wearing a medical ID bracelet that states that you have diabetes. This can come in handy in case of an emergency.
  • Keep a diabetes supply kit fully stocked. Your kit should include:
    • Blood-glucose testing supplies (lancet, meter, extra batteries for your meter, alcohol wipes)
    • Oral meds
    • Your injection supplies (if you use insulin or other injectables)
    • Your medication checklist
    • Your emergency contact numbers
    • Quick-acting carbohydrates (e.g., juice), just in case your blood glucose dips too low. Make sure to talk with your doctor about what level is too low.
  • For insulin and other injectables, keep a cooler stocked with freeze-packs. If you get your insulin and other injectables by mail, these ship with your order. Save the cooler and freezer packs for emergency situations and keep them in the freezer (while keeping your insulin and other injectables in the fridge), then take them out and use them in your cooler to keep your insulin and other injectables properly chilled.
  • Keep your diabetes supply kit with you as a carry-on when you fly. Do not check it with your luggage.


Regardless of what medicines you use or how you'll use them, you need a plan. Here are some tips for establishing a diabetes medication management plan:

  • Set a clock or cell phone alarm, or leave yourself a note on your refrigerator or by your keys—or both.
  • Use a checklist to manage your dose schedule. You can print out the one on this page and use it. Make sure to make extra copies before you fill it in.
  • Use a pillbox to keep all your oral medications organized.

“I hate getting shots!”

size of insulin needle compared to dime

Giving yourself an injection may seem difficult at first, and you may even be fearful of the pain it might cause. But the needles used with diabetes injectables are very small, and typically cause little to no pain when injected in the appropriate area. And many diabetes injectables are now available as a "pen" device designed to make administering a dose easier.

It's a good idea to talk with your doctor about your challenges or fears. He or she can show you how to give yourself an injection safely and effectively. Once you've done it a few times, you'll overcome your hesitation.

To stay prepared to manage your diabetes medication schedule, consider the following tips:

  • Set a clock or cell phone alarm, or leave yourself a note on your refrigerator or by your keys—or both.
  • Use a checklist to manage your dose schedule. You can print out the one on this page and use it. Make sure to make extra copies before you fill it in.
  • Use a pillbox to keep all your oral medications organized.
  • Keep a diabetes supply kit fully stocked. Your kit should include:
    • Blood-glucose testing supplies (lancet, meter, extra batteries for your meter, alcohol wipes)
    • Oral meds
    • Your injection supplies (if you use insulin or other injectables)
    • Your medication checklist
    • Your emergency contact numbers
    • Quick-acting carbohydrates (e.g., juice), just in case your blood glucose dips too low. Make sure to talk with your doctor about what level is too low.
  • For insulin and other injectables, keep a cooler stocked with freeze-packs. If you get your insulin and other injectables by mail, these ship with your order. Save the cooler and freezer packs for emergency situations and keep them in the freezer (while keeping your insulin and other injectables in the fridge), then take them out and use them in your cooler to keep your insulin and other injectables properly chilled.

“I don't like dealing with side effects.”

Taking medication responsibly means being aware of possible side effects and interactions, as well as the proper way to take the medication. If you take more than one medication, that challenge becomes greater. A key to tackling that challenge can be to keep a medication schedule, such as the one on this page.

People with diabetes typically take several medications for related conditions, such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol. And sometimes people with diabetes have unrelated conditions that they must take medication for. Whatever the case, taking your medications exactly as they're prescribed is important.

If you're having problems with side effects or drug interactions (with food, drink, or other medications), talk with your doctor. Don't stop taking a medication unless he or she instructs you to, and follow your doctor's instructions on how to stop taking the medication.

Here are a couple more tips for handling potential drug interactions:

  • Understand your medications. Learn what each one is for, what its known side effects and interactions are, and how it is to be used.
  • Review your list of medications with your doctor. Update as needed.

“I know medication helps me keep my blood glucose under control.”

It can sometimes seem like a balancing act to take medications as prescribed, but it's important to do so. Medications can't work as they should if they're not taken properly. Remember, keeping your blood glucose levels within a healthy range is your goal, and you're taking your medication with that goal in mind.