Whether you are a caregiver or a senior, it’s important to know if there are health implications involved with any new medications. Some, but not all medications can interfere with others. Or, they can combine to cause problems. This includes over-the-counter medications, and even vitamins or supplements.

Medical professionals do their best when we are in their care, but we have a role in advocating for our best interest in all aspects of the care we or a loved one receives. If a practioner prescribe a new medication, find out as much as you can about the health impacts by asking these questions.

Important Questions to Ask

  • What’s the name of this medication and how do you pronounce it?
  • Is it known by any other names?
  • Why is it being prescribed? You might also ask what medical condition the medicine is supposed to treat.
  • How should it be taken? This information will be on the label, but it might be confusing. For example, it might direct you to take it four times a day. Does that mean four times in a 24-hour period, or four times while you are awake? Understanding when to take medications is extremely important.
  • Can this medication be taken with food? Some medications work best on an empty stomach. Other medications can be amplified or diminished by eating or drinking certain things. Are there food I must avoid or do I need to drink extra liquids with this medication.
  • How long will it take for this medicine to work? Not all medical conditions have noticeable symptoms. Take high blood pressure, for example, it is not always noticeable that the blood pressure is being controlled or not controlled. Sometimes it is tempting to stop a medication thinking it is not working when it needs more time to reach its therapeutic effect.
  • Are there any drug interaction precautions? This question is extremely important. Many people neglect to tell health professionals that they take vitamins or over-the-counter medications. It is also important to be honest about alcohol consumption as many medications can interact and a dose change may be indicated to achieve the safest and best effect.
  • What happens if a dose is missed? This will depend on the medication. Is this a medication that I should take when I remember or do I need to wait for the next scheduled time. Ask detailed questions here.
  • What side-effects can be expected? It might not be advisable to drive while taking certain medications. There also may be reactions that might be unexpected or unusual or even alarming if you are not aware that it is a medication side effect. Also ask if the side effect is expected to go away, many times this is true and waiting out the situation is beneficial in the long run.

Your Pharmacist Can Help Too

While your doctor should be able to answer all these questions, you can also ask the pharmacist who fills the prescription. Pharmacists can also help you with alternatives if there is a problem with swallowing pills, or if there is some other challenge.

Most pharmacists will ask to consult with you if this is the first time they are filling a prescription. Feel free to ask them about any questions or concerns you have. There should never be any guessing involved when taking medications. Get answers to these questions.