New Medication
October 10, 2018 | by Andrea 'Annie' J. Ball MD

When your health care provider prescribes you a new medication, he or she should explain the basics of the medication and take time to answer any questions you might have. Because it is important you fully understand how to properly use your medication, here are some questions we recommend you ask your provider:

Usage Questions

How will this medication help me?

Make sure you thoroughly understand your condition and how this medication will help. Should it ease your symptoms or completely eliminate them?

How do I take this medication?

Some medications make you drowsy and are best taken at night, others might make you feel nauseous when taken on an empty stomach.

Where does this medication need to be stored?

Certain medications need to be refrigerated, and proper storage ensures that your medication will remain safe and effective.

Why am I taking this medication instead of a similar drug?

It may be that your prescribed medication has shown to have fewer side effects than others. Other medications you take or your personal health history can also affect your provider’s recommendation.It may be that your prescribed medication has shown to have fewer side effects than others. Other medications you take or your personal health history can also affect your provider’s recommendation.

Adverse Reaction Questions

What are the risks and side effects?

Side effects can vary in both severity and probability. Your age, weight, gender and other factors can play a role in how you respond to medication. Make sure you understand what to expect, no matter how rare some side effects may be.

What should I avoid when taking this medication?

Most commonly, you cannot drink alcohol while taking certain medications. Some medications can make you sleepy and should be avoided when driving or operating machinery. Over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen and cough-and-cold medicines can also cause adverse reactions when combined with other drugs.

Situational Questions

Is this medication safe during pregnancy?

Some medications can harm a pregnant, woman and her fetus. If you are not yet pregnant, ask as a precaution in case you become pregnant in the future.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

Missing a dose can lower the effectiveness of any medication. Missing one day of a birth control pill can increase the risk of pregnancy, and missing two days in a row requires a week of using a back-up birth control method. You should find out if your medication has special instructions for if you miss a dose, especially if the risks are high.

Is there a generic version of this medication available?

Some insurance companies will not cover certain brand name drugs, but will cover the generic alternative. Even if your insurance covers both, out-of-pocket expenses may still vary and brand name drugs can be more than double the cost of generic.

Medications can be a critical component in staying healthy or managing a chronic condition. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about taking a new medication. It’s important to feel confident in taking them to improve your health. Your health care provider should support you in better understanding your medications, so try asking this list of questions at your next visit.

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