February 14, 2018
It’s important to know that the people who work behind the counter at your local pharmacy do more than just fill your prescriptions; these men and women are highly trained pharmacists who can answer any and all questions about your medications. They can teach you how to properly take your prescriptions for the best results, and how to minimize any potential side effects. Your drugstore pharmacists can also discuss your options for generic and cheap alternatives that should help save you money.
Next time you visit your community or hospital pharmacy, consider asking your pharmacist the following important questions.
1. Does My Medication Cause Any Major Side Effects?
The printed information that comes with your medication will list all possible side effects. But asking your pharmacist directly about possible side effects can give you insight into which symptoms are commonly experienced by others who use the medication. Your pharmacist can also inform you of potential risks when using certain combinations of medications. For example, painkillers should never be combined with benzodiazepines due to the high risk for drug overdose.
2. Should I Take My Medication With or Without Food?
Some medications work better when taken with food, which helps your blood absorb them properly. Taking certain medicines with food may also prevent you from experiencing nausea and digestion complications. Although, some medicines work better when taken on an empty stomach. Ask your drugstore pharmacist for confirmation before using your prescription for the first time.
3. Is There a Generic Version of My Medication?
Generic medications without brand names usually have the same active ingredients as their more well-known counterparts. Plus, they’re typically far less costly, too. If your goal is to save money, ask your pharmacist if your brand-name medication can be replaced with a generic version. You can also ask about whether a pharmacy discount card is available to give you additional savings.
4. How Long Should I Use This Medication?
Some patients who start feeling better after taking a few doses of their medications may stop using the prescription because they feel better; however, this can be counterproductive if an illness comes back before it’s fully treated. In other instances, a doctor may prescribe more medication than what is needed, which can be risky in the case where addictive medications like painkillers are being used. Ask how long you should be taking the prescription, and about whether it’s okay to stop using it when you start feeling better.
5. What Should I Do if I Miss a Dose?
Forgetting to take your dose at the scheduled time happens more often than you may realize. But doubling up on doses or skipping it altogether can be risky depending on the medication you’re using. Ask your drugstore pharmacist about next steps to take if you miss a dose. They’ll instruct you whether you should take it as soon as you remember or just wait until it’s time to take the next dose.
6. Where Should I Store My Medication?
The temperatures and environments used to store medications can compromise the effectiveness of them. Most medications should be stored in dry areas at room temperature. But sometimes you may be prescribed medications that need to be stored in the refrigerator. For example, many antibiotics like penicillin and amoxicillin must be refrigerated. If you’ve been prescribed medications that carry a risk for dependence and addiction like opioids, your pharmacist may suggest storing them in a locked place away from children and visitors to your home.
7. How Can I Safely Dispose of My Medication?
Getting rid of leftover medications when you don’t need them anymore can prevent them from falling into the hands of those who may take them accidentally or abuse them. Ask your pharmacist if the pharmacy has an on-site drug disposal box or take-back program. If these options aren’t available, your pharmacist may instruct you to flush them down the toilet or mix them with dirt or used coffee grounds before placing them in the household trash.
At Healthcare Associates of Texas, we understand how important it is to use the medication safely and responsibly. The pharmacists at our full-service medical pharmacy can help you learn more about your medication so you can experience the safest treatment possible. We will work with you one on one to ensure you receive the best-personalized care and treatment available. Schedule an appointment or call us at (972) 258-7499 today.