Questions To Ask Your Pharmacist
Sourced from our partners at FamilyWize
Starting a new medication can be overwhelming. Remembering the side effects, when to take it, what to take it with (food or a full glass of water), all of these guidelines are important to know. So what should you do when picking up a new Rx? Talk to your pharmacist!
Pharmacists don’t just fill your prescriptions—they are there to advise you and answer any questions you may have. And not just on prescription treatments! They can also help you with any over-the-counter medication questions you may have. Here are 10 things you should consider asking your pharmacist.
1. What is the name of my medication?
While this seems simple, it’s not always that straightforward. Prescription medications can have two names: the generic name and the brand name. Consider Advil, the brand name for ibuprofen. You can buy ibuprofen as a generic brand that is simply labeled “ibuprofen” for a lower cost. It is important to know the name of your drug, as it could interact with other medications and be important information during other medical treatments.
Helpful hint: Write down all the names of your medications to show your pharmacist (and healthcare provider) to ensure they will not adversely interact. Be sure to include any supplements or herbal treatments as well.
2. Is there a way to get this cheaper? Is there a generic version of this drug?
Pharmacists understand prescription drug prices can be high and will do what they can to help you save money, whether that be looking for coupons or asking your provider to switch you from a brand-name prescription to a generic.
3. What does my medication do? How does it work?
It’s also important to understand what your medications do. Some medicines completely cure an illness, like antibiotics for an infection. However, other medications only work as a treatment, like antidepressants. Ask your pharmacist this question to know what to expect when taking your prescription.
4. How should I take this medication?
Not all medications are taken the same way. If not taken correctly, a medication may not work to its fullest benefit. While some prescriptions may be taken only once per day, other medications should be taken multiple times throughout the day. Some medications also have specific rules about when you can take them—in the morning vs. at night—or how, like with food, on an empty stomach, or with a full glass of water. Your pharmacist can outline all this and give you the best possible chance of your meds working and not upsetting your daily life.
5. How long will it take for this medication to work? How long should I take it?
Your pharmacist can advise you on how long it may take to see results from your medication. It is also important to discuss how long you need to take your medication. Just because the medication is working, does not mean you should stop taking it. Some medications need to be taken the full course, like antibiotics, and others need to be weaned off before you stop taking them. Discuss these questions with your pharmacist to clarify the course of treatment.
6. Are there any interactions I should be aware of? Should I avoid anything?
Another thing that can change the effectiveness of your prescription drugs may be certain foods, supplements, herbs, or medications. Sometimes these interactions can even cause side effects, which is why it is important to discuss these interactions with your pharmacist. Your pharmacist can also tell you things to avoid while on some medications, as several drugs may cause sensitivity to sunlight or alcohol.
7. What are the side effects?
All medications come with side effects. While the goal is for the benefits to outweigh these risks, it is important to know of any side effects that could happen while taking your medications. Discuss with your pharmacist what possible side effects you may experience. While some side effects may just be a slight annoyance, others could require immediate medical attention.
8. What happens if I mess up my dosage?
Accidents happen. It is important to find out what to do in case you forget your pill or accidentally take it twice. If this is something that is an issue for you, the pharmacist can help you find a pill organizer. Your pharmacist can also give you instructions on what to do in case you make one of these errors.
9. How should I store my medications?
Some medications may require refrigeration or storage at a certain temperature. If you don’t store them properly, it is possible they can lose their effectiveness.
10. Is this safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding?
Not all medications are safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you suspect you could be pregnant or are breastfeeding, it is important to go over the medications you are taking with your pharmacist to ensure that they are safe.