What is a Pill Dispenser?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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A pill dispenser is an invaluable tool for helping people to remember to take their medication as needed, on an hourly or daily basis. The simplest pill dispensers allow people to access their pills at any time, but have timers or watches that go off to remind them when it’s time to take pills. Others may be in a locked position and dispense pills only at the time(s) set. Another form is quite common with daily birth control. Pills are set on a small round dial that turns after each pill is taken. This means you can turn the dial to be certain you’ve taken the pill for that day. Some people may call various pillboxes pill dispensers, but more typically the pill dispenser has some type of electronic means of reminding people to take pills.


The advantages to pill dispensers are multiple. They can help keep people organized when they need to take different pills at different times of the day. Some don’t actually dispense pills but instead are used as an alarm, something like a personal organizer to remind people when to take certain pills. This can help folks who may have trouble remembering. Even the sharpest people may be daunted when they must take a lot of different medications, especially if they can’t take them all at the same time. Some conditions truly require regular administration of pills, and when people forget to take them, it can cause complications or problems. Other times, people who forget are in a quandary about whether they should take them again, which can lead to either underdose or accidental overdose.

There are some disadvantages to the electronic type pill dispenser. A person who is forgetful may not be able to program such a pill dispenser. They also may need to load the device with pills, and if they get confused as to which pills need to be loaded in which place, they may accidentally fill the dispenser with the wrong pills. This can throw a medication regimen off or cause accidental overdose. Further, some of the personal organizer-type screens may be difficult to read. If sight is impaired, small text on these may not adequately help people determine which pills to take when an alarm chimes. If a person is forgetful and/or has difficulty reading small text, a caretaker, pharmacist, doctor or family member should help them organize the pill dispenser and be prepared to do so each time pills are refilled.

You can purchase a pill dispenser at pharmacies, on the Internet and occasionally at doctor’s offices, and prices can range dramatically. They come in box form, personal organizer form, and even in the shape of things like watches or lockets that chime. You should read some costumer reviews and ask your pharmacist or doctor which type is best for you.

Furthermore, since pills often aren’t packed in child safety packs, these dispensers, if they are open at all times, may be easily accessed by children. Be sure to keep these or any medication bottles well out of reach of kids. Lastly, care should be taken to change batteries frequently, if the pill dispenser requires them. A forgetful person may not remember this either, and may not realize if batteries are running low and interfering with correct functioning of the device.


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