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Questions to Ask Your Pharmacist and/or Doctor

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When a patient is prescribed a medication by a doctor it is important that the patient take it as directed. Also of importance is the responsibility of the doctor and the pharmacist to make sure the patient understands the directions. The prescribing doctor should make sure the patient understands the risks associated with this medication. The pharmacist should be available to answer any questions the patient has.

Below are important questions that you should feel comfortable in asking of your pharmacist or doctor:

What is the name of the medication? Should I take a generic form of the medicine? Be sure to know both the generic and brand name of the drug. There may be subtle differences in a generic drug that could affect how it works for you. Always make sure that the doctor is familiar with all of the medications that you may be taking.

What is the correct way to take this medication? Understand how often you should take the medicine, the correct dosage, if you should take it with food, anything you should avoid, and what to do if you miss a dose.

How do I store the medicine? When does it expire? Some medicines require refrigeration, some may need to be kept free of moisture or heat, so be sure to look for storage instructions on the label or ask your pharmacist. Also be aware of expiration dates on your medications. The effectiveness of the medicine can be compromised if expired.

Are there any foods, drinks, other medications or supplements that I should avoid while taking this medication? Many medicines have detrimental effects when combined with alcohol or certain foods. Additionally, your medicine may have harmful side effects when interacting with some over-the-counter medicines, supplements, and other prescription drugs. Certain combinations can either exaggerate the effect or lessen the effect of medication.

Are there any activities I should avoid while taking this medication? Some medications may affect your ability to drive a car, operate heavy machinery or exercise. Certain medications require that the user avoid sunlight.

What are potential allergic reactions to this medicine? What are the potential side effects? You should always alert a doctor and pharmacist to any allergic reactions you may have. It’s best to be aware of side effects of your prescription and what to do if you begin experiencing such symptoms.

Is this medication safe if I am (or become) pregnant or if I am breastfeeding? Some medications (over-the-counter and prescription) are not safe if you are or plan to become pregnant. Additionally, some drugs will pass through breast milk and may not be safe for a child.

How long should I take this medicine? Some medicines, such as antibiotics require that you take every dose. Other medicines should only be used if needed or until symptoms disappear. Some medicines should not be refilled without a follow up doctor’s visit or without medical testing. Also ask about when you will begin to see results from the medicine.