“Often, the only thing that patients really know about their medication is the color of the pill,” says Micki Fischer, Public Health Nurse, “but there are 10 things people should ask each time they get a new medication.”
1. What is this medicine used for?
2. What is the brand name? Generic name?
3. How should I take this medicine and for how long?
4. When should I take it?
5. What side effects may occur? How do I recognize these side effects & what do I do if they occur?
6. What drugs, supplement, herbals, food, drink, activities should I avoid – and when?
7. How long does it take for this medication to work and how will I know that it is working?
8. What should I do when I miss a dose?
9. Are there any precautions I should take when I am on this medication?
10. How should I store this drug?
“Keeping a current and accurate list of medications is one of the most important things a person can do,” says Erin Dausel, Public Health Nurse. “The list should include every prescription, vitamin, herbal and nutritional supplement, and over-the-counters medication you take. Be sure to include the dosage, how often and when you take it. It’s important the list includes any allergies, your health history and emergency contact information. Keep this list in your purse or wallet and be sure the list matches what is in your chart at the doctor’s office and the pharmacy.”
Additional helpful information includes:
1. Have all your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy every time. This makes it possible for them to check for drug interactions. Transferring prescriptions between pharmacies can be dangerous and is not recommended.
2. Make sure all your doctors (including dentist) and pharmacy have your medications and allergies on file.
3. Bring all your medications to your doctor visit at least once per year. Include all medications you take (including prescriptions, over-the-counter, vitamins, and herbals).
4. Understand the conditions you are being treated for. Having knowledge about your diseases and how they are treated will help you understand the importance of your medicines and any other lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health.
5. Ask questions if you don’t understand.