Stay Safe With Prescription Medicines

When it comes to any medicine, whether prescribed or purchased over the counter, knowing the right questions to ask can help you stay safe.

Stay Safe With Prescription MedicinesPhoto: Burlingham/ShutterStock

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the medication that has been prescribed to you. Your doctor and pharmacist are there to help.

Before you Start

Here are the questions to ask before you start taking your medicine:

  • What is the name of the prescription?
  • Why am I taking it?
  • Can I use this medicine safely with other medicines and treatments I am using? (Remember to tell your doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products you are taking.)
  • Will I need a refill?
  • Are there any side effects?
  • Which ones should I report?
  • Does my doctor need to see me while I’m taking this medication?
  • Is there any chance that I could become dependent on this medicine?
  • What can I do to avoid this?
  • How will I know if it is working?

Be sure to read the patient information sheets you receive when you pick up your prescription from the drug store.

Know What to Expect

Once the prescription has been filled, ask your doctor or pharmacist the following questions:

  • When should I take it and for how long?
  • Do I take it on an empty stomach or with food?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • What should I do if I use too much by mistake?
  • Should I avoid any foods, drink, or activities while using this medicine?
  • Will this medicine make me sleepy?
  • Can I drive a car?
  • Can I drink alcohol while taking it?
  • How should I store the medication?
  • Does it need to be kept in the fridge?

Tips From Your Pharmacist

Here are some suggestions from pharmacists to help you stay organized with your medications.

  • If you take more than one medication, use daily or weekly pill containers to help remind you when to take the medicine
  • If you have trouble opening pill bottles, ask the drug store to put your prescription in a bottle with an “easy open” lid.
  • An easy-to-read label can be made with big print. Ask the pharmacist for this kind of label if you have vision problems.
  • If you find it hard to swallow pills, ask if your medicine comes as a liquid or in a form you can chew.
  • Find out if it’s okay to crush the medication and mix it with food or water.
  • If other people in your family are taking medication, use a marker to highlight the user’s name on each bottle. Use a different coloured pen for each person. You may also want to highlight the instructions.

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