A Little Q&A is the Right Rx

Seems there's a pill to help just about everything.

But more isn't always better. Stormont-Vail Pharmacist Katie Burenheide, PharmD, says the more medications you have, the greater the risk of interactions and complications. Burenheide says those interactions can cause potentially deadly side effects, or make a drug not work at all.

The most important way to protect yourself is to keep a current list of all your medicines. Burenheide says that includes prescription, over the counter and herbal. She says it should include the name of the medicine, the dose, what you take it for and when you should take it. With a current list, doctors and pharmacists can screen for any potential interactions. It's also best to use the same pharmacy, so they have an up-to-date record on file.

If your doctor wants to add a new drug to the list, ask its name, the dosage, side effects, any tests you'll need to take and an explanation on how often and when to take it. Burenheide says certain medications may benefit more on an eight-hour dosage schedule, versus morning-noon-night. Also, she says, is you take something daily, be sure to find out whether morning or night would be a better time of day. Also ask whether or not to take it with food.

Burenheide suggests thinking things through before your appointment. She says write down any issues you might want to address so you don't forget anything. It's also a good idea to bring a family member and take good notes, because it's easy to forget something the doctor told you.

That's also why you should keep those information sheets that come with your medicines. Burenheide says they're a good reference for questions about what it is you're taking.

Stormont-Vail has a pamphlet that lists all the questions you should ask before taking a medicine and a card for filling out your medication list. It's called "Your Medicine: Play It Safe." You can get a copy by calling Health Connections, (785) 354-5225.

Questions to Ask Before You Take Your Medicine
from "Your Medicine: Play It Safe"
1. What are the brand name and generic name of this medicine?
2. Can I take a generic version of this medicine?
3. What am I taking this medicine for?
4. Does this new prescription mean I should stop taking any other medicines I'm taking now?
5. How do I take the medicine and how often do I take it? If I need to take it three times a day, does that mean to take it at breakfast, lunch and dinner, or to take it every 8 hours?
6. Do I need to take it all, or should I stop when I feel better?
7. How long will I be taking it? Can I get a refill? How often can I get a refill?
8. Are there any tests I need to take while I'm on this medicine?
9. When should I expect the medicine to start working? How can I tell if it's working?
10. When should I tell the doctor about a problem or side effect?
11. Are there foods, drinks (including alcoholic beverages), other medicines or activities to avoid while I'm taking this medicine?
12. What are the side effects that can happen with this medicine?
13. What should I do if I have a side effect?
14. What happens if I miss a dose?
15. What printed information can you give me about this medicine?

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