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Questions to Ask About Your Medicines


Topic 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?

  • How will I know that this medicine is working? How long will it take before I notice anything?
  • Will I need any tests while I'm on this medicine?
  • 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 someone my age? For a man or woman?

When and how do I take it?

  • How long will I have to take it? What if I begin to feel better?
  • 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 two 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? Can I use grapefruit juice? Should I avoid any food or drink when I take 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?

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?

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerMargaret Hetherington, B.Sc.PHM., PharmD - Pharmacy
Last RevisedJuly 6, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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