How to Take Your Meds Safely

If you have concerns about taking medicine, look to your pharmacist for assistance. Your pharmacist can provide up-to-date education and information about your medication, including:

  • Explaining the doses and common side effects of the drugs
  • Giving you the brand names and the generic names of the medications being used
  • Telling you how and when to take the medication, including with or without food
  • Explaining possible drug or food interactions and reporting any issues to the prescribing pharmacist

Are You Familiar with Your Medications?

Asking your pharmacist questions before taking any medication may save your life. Some drug interactions can happen unexpectedly, whereas others are quite predictable. Be sure to ask your pharmacist the reasons for using the medication and potential side effects of any medications you are taking. Some questions to ask your pharmacist include:

  • Can I drink alcohol while taking this medication?
  • Do I need to avoid grapefruit juice when taking this medication?
  • Do I need to drink a full glass of water with it?
  • Do I need to measure the medicine?
  • Should I take it at a specific time of day?
  • Should I take it only as needed or on a schedule?
  • Should I take it with food or on an empty stomach?
  • Will I need refills of this medicine?

Do You Have a Current Medication Record?

It’s important to keep a current and accurate medication record with you always, including all prescribed and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, as well as natural dietary supplements. Share this medication list with your pharmacist to make sure there are no drug-drug or drug-supplement interactions. Be sure to update this list if you add a new medication or supplement and let your pharmacist know of the addition.

Does Your Pharmacist Know Your Health History?

Talk with the pharmacist about your health history and any history of allergies. Does the medication have any ingredient that you are allergic to? This conversation may save you from getting sick while taking the medicine. Sometimes the pharmacist may alert your physician if you are using too much of one medication or not enough of another. Also, if there is a potentially dangerous drug-drug interaction, your pharmacist can immediately call you and your physician.

Does Your Pharmacist Recommend Generic Equivalents?

If you are taking medications for hypertension, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol or other chronic conditions, your pharmacist can let you know if there is a generic equivalent for your medication. Generic medications are comprised of the same key formula as brand name drugs but are usually much less expensive.

Additionally, take time before you leave the pharmacy and make sure you can open the bottle. If you can’t, ask the pharmacist to put your medicines in bottles that are easier to open. When opening the medicine bottle, be sure to count the pills. Sometimes people find they are given fewer pills than prescribed. That must be reported to the pharmacy immediately.