Whether you were prescribed a new medication or have been taking Rx meds for some time, there are important questions you can ask your doctor to become better informed about the prescription drugs you take. Getting the facts about your medications and over-the-counter drugs can help prevent unintended consequences. For example, drug interactions can potentially cause harm, make other drugs less effective, or create unexpected side effects. Understanding ahead of time the risks, side effects, and feelings, such as drowsiness, associated with a medication may prepare and help you keep a close watch on potential changes in your body.
You deserve to have all the information you need about your prescription drugs, and talking to your doctor can help clear up any confusion about the medicine you’re taking. For instance, knowing how to store your medication properly will help ensure its effectiveness. Learning about alternatives to the prescribed medication can potentially reduce your costs if a generic version is available, or another drug may have fewer side effects. Some drugs need to work together to be effective and other medications can be dangerous to stop taking abruptly. During National Talk About Prescriptions Month (TAP Month), or Talk About Rx Month, throughout the month of October, make a list of all your medications, including over the counter (OTC) products, and go through this list of questions with your doctor and pharmacist.
- What is the name of the medication (both generic and brand name)?
- Why am I taking this medication? What is the name of the condition this medicine will treat?
- Does this medication replace another medication I am currently taking or should I take it in addition to what I already take?
- Are there any drug interactions to know about? Will the medicine create conflicts with other medicines I take or will it interact with any of my current health conditions?
- Are there any foods or drinks that the medicine interferes with? Is it okay to eat or drink food before or after I take the medicine? Can I drink alcohol when taking this medicine?
- How will I feel once I start taking this medication?
- How do I take this medication properly? When and how often should I take the medicine? As needed, or on a schedule? Do I take medicine before, with, or between meals? How long will I have to take it?
- What are the benefits of taking this medication?
- What are the risks and side effects might I expect? Should I report them? Are they temporary?
- How long will it take for the medication to work? How will I know if this medication is working?
- How should I store the medicine? Does it need to be refrigerated?
- How much does it cost? Can the pharmacist substitute a cheaper, generic form of the medicine?
- Are there alternatives to this medication?
- How many people taking the drug does it actually help?
- Are there any lab tests to check the medicine’s level in my body or for any harmful side effects?
- What should I do if I forget to take it? What if I miss a dose?
- If I want to discontinue taking this medicine, is it safe to just stop?