Your pharmacist is an incredible resource that you may not be taking advantage of. With years of education, training, and experience, they can offer information on your medication that can be critical to avoiding harmful side effects and ensuring proper treatment. So it’s important that you feel comfortable talking to them.
If you have questions related to your or your family’s medication, don’t hesitate to ask a pharmacist. They can provide greater clarity, instill confidence, and even save you money. You can’t know what you don’t know, though, so consider the following questions.
Questions to Ask a Pharmacist
1. What does this medication do?
The first thing you should know about your medication is what does it do? Specifically, how is it supposed to work and how long will it take to work. While some medications, like pain relievers, work immediately, others may take days, weeks, or even months to kick in. Your pharmacist can answer this and help you manage expectations so there are no surprises. This can help reduce adverse outcomes and the potential for errors.
2. How should I take this medication?
Another important question to ask is, how should I take this medication? While some medication should be taken with food or at certain times of the day, this will vary. And while this information may be on your medication label, it’s not always easy to read or decipher. If you ask your pharmacist how it should be taken, though, you can receive clear instructions.
One common mistake people make when taking their medication is to stop taking their medication when they feel better. Many medications, antibiotics, in particular, are working to fight off viral infections even after you no longer feel symptoms. So, it’s important to take them as long as they are prescribed. But this isn’t the case for all medications, so ask a pharmacist what the proper protocol is for yours.
3. What are the side effects?
While many of us skip over the list of medication side effects, it’s important to know what they are. Your pharmacist can be a great resource to quickly cover your medications’ side effects. This can include more common side effects as well as which ones are more serious and require attention. Although, it may feel scary, your pharmacist can help you better understand these side effects in a way that makes you feel comfortable about taking your medication.
4. Does this medication interact poorly with other meds or activities?
There is a long list of drug interactions your pharmacist knows that you probably don’t. This is why it’s important to ask if there are any interactions you should know about before taking your medication. Another way to phrase this question is: “Should I avoid any foods, drinks, supplements, or other medications while taking this medication?”
Perhaps you shouldn’t combine this medication with other medications you’re taking. Or maybe you shouldn’t drive or drink alcohol while on this medication. Without this knowledge, you could be at risk of serious side effects or reduce the efficacy of your medication.
5. What if I miss a dose?
It can be difficult to remember to take your medication or when to take it, especially if it’s new. At one point or another, you may miss a dose. For certain medications, missing a dose is more serious than it is for others when you can simply take the dose as soon as you remember. So it’s always a good idea to ask a pharmacist what you should do if you miss a dose. You can do this when you pick up a prescription, or, you can always call if it happens.
6. Are there any alternatives to this medication?
There are many instances when you may wonder if your medication has any alternatives. For example, if you experience unwanted side effects on one medication, a different medication may work better for you. Another case where you should ask about alternative options is if your insurance doesn’t cover your medication, or if you are paying for it out-of-pocket. In these instances, a generic version of your medication may be available. Generic drugs are equivalent to brand-name versions but priced much lower.
7. How should I store this medication?
Not many people think about where they put their medication when they get home as being an issue. But how and where you store your medication is important. Most medications should be stored in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. This ensures they don’t break down and become less potent. However, check with your pharmacist as some medications may require specific storage instructions.
When in Doubt, Ask Your Pharmacist
Asking your pharmacist these questions is just the start. These professionals have a wealth of knowledge and are here to help you in any way they can. If you have any additional questions or hesitations around you medication, talk to your pharmacist. They care that you know about your medication and take it properly so that you can experience its benefits.
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