Whether you need to take one prescription temporarily for an infection or several every day to treat chronic illnesses, you need to become an expert in your own treatment. Taking the wrong pill at the wrong time in the wrong way can be dangerous. That’s why you need to understand every drug you take. According to medical experts, your doctors have the answers if you know what questions to ask.
Request Information About Each New Medicine
Whenever your doctor prescribes a new medication, find out about it during your appointment. Ask questions including:
- What’s the name of the medicine?
- Why do I need to take it?
- What condition does this drug treat?
- When will it start working?
- What do you expect this medication to do?
- How long will I need to take it before I can expect to see results?
- Does this medicine require a special storage method?
- Do you have any free samples of this drug?
- Can the pharmacist substitute a less-expensive, generic form?
- Where can I get more information about this medication?
Find out How to Take Every Drug
You need to know the right way to administer each medicine. Ask questions such as:
- When and how often should I take this drug?
- Do I take this medication before, with, or between meals?
- Should I take it on any empty stomach?
- How long will I need to take it?
- What will happen if I don’t take this prescription?
- Why are you prescribing this particular medicine instead of a similar one?
- Do I need to finish the whole bottle?
- How will we know when I can stop taking this drug or if you need to adjust the dosage?
- If I miss a dose, what should I do?
- Is is harmful if I take too much accidentally?
- What should I do if I want to stop taking this medication?
Know What to Expect with Your New Medication
- How will I feel once I start taking this prescription?
- Will anything indicate that it’s working?
- What common
side effects might I expect?
Will any subside over time? Can you recommend any ways to minimize them?
- Should I report serious side effects?
Could any be dangerous enough to require emergency treatment?
- Can any lab tests check this medicine’s level or harmful side effects?
- Do I have any other treatment options besides this medication?
To determine how effective this drug is, ask:
- How do you monitor this medicine’s effectiveness?
Can any specific tests measure this how well it’s working?
- What kind of track record in terms of effectiveness does this medication have?
- Do you have any other patients who’ve used this drug?
If so, how well has it worked for them?
You need to know if this new drug is compatible with your other prescriptions, so ask:
- Should I avoid any other medications or activities while I’m taking this medicine?
- Will this drug affect how my other prescriptions and dietary supplements work?
Discover if your new medication will interfere with your diet by asking:
- May I eat or drink before or after I take this medicine?
- Do I need to avoid any particular foods or beverages?
- Is drinking alcohol okay while I’m taking this drug?
When to Call Your Doctor
Contacting your doctor’s office is appropriate in these conditions:
- You’re confused or uncertain about your medication’s directions or you have questions about it.
- A medicine is causing serious side effects.
Don’t stop taking the prescription without telling your doctor. You might need a different dosage or medication.
- The drug your pharmacy provided doesn’t look like what you expected.
- Your refill medication is different from what you get usually.
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Take Charge of Your Health
Establishing good habits is important to managing your well-being, in addition to talking with your doctor.
- Know what prescriptions, vitamins, and herbal supplements you take.
- Keep a list of all your medicines in your wallet.
- Provide your complete medical history to every doctor along with future plans like having a baby.
- Discuss every drug you’re taking to each doctor you see to avoid taking more
This also will reduce the risk that one drug will interact poorly with another.
- Take time to understand the purpose of each prescription.
- Ask your doctors to explain any medical terms and medication instructions that you don’t understand.
Take notes for later reference. If you’re still confused, ask again.
- When necessary, have a relative or friend join you at your doctor’s visits to help you retain and sort out all the information you receive.