8 questions to ask about your medications

Whether by prescription or over the counter, medications can help us feel better. As October is Talk About Your Medicines month, we are bringing awareness to the importance of understanding medicine labels as a vital part of maintaining your health. 

Over the counter (OTC) medications will include a drug fact label that will instruct you in how to properly take the medicine, how to avoid side effects, uses and warnings. OTC medications can include cold and pain relievers, vitamins, supplements and herbal remedies.

“Over the counter medications are still drugs,” explains Chelsea Branch, PharmD, Inpatient Pharmacy Clinical Manager at McLaren Port Huron. “It is vital for people to be aware of any potential interactions with other medications you may be taking. Before starting any new prescription or OTC medication, be sure to read the label or ask your pharmacist.”

Prescription medications also contain information from the pharmacy or from the drug manufacturer. While this information may seem overwhelming, it is provided for your safety. Before starting any medication, be sure to look over the information included with your prescription and use these tips when speaking to your pharmacist or health care provider.

8 Questions to Ask About the Medicines You Take

  1. What’s the name of the medicine (both trade and generic) and what is it for? 
2. Are there special instructions on how and when to take it, and for how long? 
3. What should I do if I miss a dose?
4. When should I expect the medicine to begin to work, and how will I know if it’s working or not working? 
5. What are the common side effects, and what should I do if I experience them? 
6. Should I avoid any foods, drinks, alcohol or other medicines while taking this prescription? 
7. Will this medicine work safely with my other medications, including other prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and other supplements? 
8. Is there any additional information I should know about this medicine?

If you have questions about prescription and/or over the counter medications, speak to your pharmacist or health care provider. If you need a health care provider, click here.