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Taking medicines - what to ask your doctor

  • Alternative Names
    • Medications - taking

  • Take Charge of Your Health
    • Many people take medicines every day. You might need to take medicine for an infection or to treat a chronic (long-term) illness.

      Take charge of your health. Ask your health care providers questions and learn about the medicine you take.

      Know what medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements you take.

      • Make a list of your medicines to keep in your wallet.
      • Take time to understand the purpose of your medicine.
      • Ask your provider questions when you do not know the meaning of medical words, or when instructions aren't clear. And write down the answers to your questions.
      • Bring a family member or friend to the pharmacy or to your doctor's visits to help you remember or write down the information you are given.
  • Get Information About Your new Medicine
    • When your doctor prescribes a medicine, find out about it. Ask questions, such as:

      • What is the name of the medicine?
      • Why am I taking this medicine?
      • What is the name of the condition this medicine will treat?
      • How long will it take to work?
      • How should I store the medicine? Does it need to be refrigerated?
      • Can the pharmacist substitute a cheaper, generic form of the medicine?
      • Will the medicine create conflicts with other medicines I take?
  • Find out how to Take the Medicine
    • Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse about the right way to take your medicine. Ask questions, such as:

      • 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?
  • Know What to Expect With the new Medicine
    • Ask about how you will feel.

      • How will I feel once I start taking this medicine?
      • How will I know if this medicine is working?
      • What side effects might I expect? Should I report them?
      • Are there any lab tests to check the medicine's level in my body or for any harmful side effects?

      Ask if this new medicine fits in with your other medicines.

      • Are there other medicines or activities I should avoid when taking this medicine?
      • Will this medicine change how my other medicines work? (Ask about both prescription and over-the-counter medicines.)
      • Will this medicine change how any of my herbal or dietary supplements work?

      Ask if your new medicine interferes with eating or drinking.

      • Are there any foods that I should not drink or eat?
      • Can I drink alcohol when taking this medicine? How much?
      • Is it OK to eat or drink food before or after I take the medicine?

      Ask other questions, such as:

      • If I forget to take it, what should I do?
      • What should I do if I feel I want to stop taking this medicine? Is it safe to just stop?
  • When to Call the Doctor or Pharmacist
    • Call your doctor or pharmacist if:

      • You have questions or you are confused or uncertain about the directions for your medicine.
      • You are having side effects from the medicine. DO NOT stop taking the medicine without telling your doctor. You might need a different dose or a different medicine.
      • Your medicine looks different than you expected.
      • Your refill medicine is different than what you usually get.
  • References