Asking the right questions
about your medications
Whether you’re taking a prescription drug or one you buy over-the-counter, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or pharma- cist questions. Keep a list of the medications and doses readily available in your purse or wallet.
• What’s the name of the medication? Learn both the generic and brand names.
• Why are you taking it?
It’s critical that you understand the purpose of the medication.
Knowing why your doctor has recommended a particular medication will increase the chances that you take the med- ication appropriately and receive the intended benefit.
• What effect can you expect?
How will the drug make you feel? How soon can you expect results? Some drugs take days or weeks to have an effect.
• How much, when and how long should you take it?
Make sure the directions make sense. “Four times daily”
could mean with each meal and at bedtime or every six hours, including the middle of the night.
• Are there restrictions?
Some foods can interfere with the effectiveness of a drug.
Alcohol also can interfere and cause certain side effects. In addition, some drugs can make you sensitive to sunlight.
• What are the side effects?
What are common side effects? Which side effects may go away with time? Which side effects should prompt you to contact your doctor?
• What do you do if you miss a dose?
Do you take it as soon as you remember or wait until the next dose is due?
• Are there alternatives?
Do other drugs or treatments cost less or have fewer side effects? Will a generic drug provide the same benefit?