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Questions to Ask About Your Medicines

Overview

It's important to know as much as possible about the medicines you're taking. Here are some examples of questions you might ask your doctor or pharmacist.

What can you tell me about this medicine?

  • What is the name of the medicine?
  • What will the medicine do (for example, lower blood pressure)?
  • How will I know that this medicine is working? How long will it take before I notice anything?
  • What is the next step if this medicine doesn't work?
  • Will I need any tests while I'm on this medicine?
  • How much does the medicine cost?
  • Is an older or less expensive generic version available? Will it work for me?

Why am I taking it?

  • Why is this the right medicine for me?
  • Is there something I can do instead of taking this medicine?
  • Is there a medicine that could be better for me?
  • Can I start with a prescription for a few days to make sure the medicine agrees with me?

When and how do I take it?

  • How is the medicine taken (for example, by mouth [orally] or through a skin patch)?
  • How long will I have to take it? What if I begin to feel better?
  • What amount do I take each time (dose)?
  • How often should it be taken (for example, 3 times a day)?
  • When do I take it (early, late, morning, evening, before bed, once a day, other instructions)?
  • What if I miss a dose? Do I take 2 doses the next time? Do I take the missed dose right away?

What about food and drink?

  • Do I take this medicine with or without food or water?
  • Should I avoid any food or drink when I take it?
  • Should I avoid certain activities or other medicines while taking it?
  • How long before or after eating do I take it? Does it matter?
  • Is it okay to drink alcohol while I'm taking this medicine?

What about side effects and interactions?

  • What side effects can I expect, and how soon might they appear?
  • Will they go away on their own? How long will it take? Can I do anything to prevent or manage them?
  • When should I call about side effects?
  • Do any of my medicines cause a bad reaction with another one or interact with another medical condition?

What else do I need to know?

  • Can I take this medicine at the same time as other medicines?
  • How do I store this medicine? Do I need to put it in the refrigerator?
  • If I have trouble swallowing, can I split the pill or crush it in food or drink?

Reminders

Be sure you understand your doctor's instructions.

State any concerns you have about taking the medicine. For example, ask if "4 doses daily" means taking a dose every 6 hours around the clock or just during regular waking hours.

Learn more

Credits

Current as of: September 20, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine

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