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6 Important Questions to Ask When Starting a New Prescription

Sometimes it can seem as if your loved one is being handed a new medication at every doctor appointment.

There are the pills to help with their cholesterol, then the ones for the joint pain, and the pills to deal with the side effects of the cholesterol medication … It all may leave you wondering whether or not the new prescription your loved one’s doctor is handing over is really necessary.

If you’re faced with a doctor suggesting a new medication to you or your loved one, here are 6 important questions to ask first:

Why is this medication necessary, and how does it work?

This first, most important, question to ask the doctor is why the medication they’re prescribing is necessary. 

If they don’t give a clear, concise answer (ex: “This medication will help decrease your blood pressure, and high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart attacks”), then it’s time to probe further. 

Unless the doctor found a new medical problem you weren’t aware of, any medications they suggest should be designed to help with any conditions, symptoms, or problems you have brought forward in the appointment or that are already on your radar. A medication shouldn’t be recommended out of the blue; there should at least be some history as to why the prescription is being recommended.

What are the risks and benefits?

All medications will come with benefits, whether it’s a relief of symptoms or the ability to go on with daily activities. However, they all come with risks as well.

Talk to your doctor about what to expect when starting the medication. How long will it take to start seeing relief from your symptoms? What side effects are considered normal? When should you call your doctor?

Knowing what to expect before starting a medication is key to understanding when it’s time to get help for a side effect and when you can wait things out.

How do I take this medication?

Getting the dosing correct on a medication is essential. That includes knowing how much to take, when to take it, and whether you need to take the medication with food or on an empty stomach. Improper dosing of medication can mean you won’t actually see any relief from the symptoms the medication is designed to treat, or it can cause more serious complications.

Be sure to get specific instructions – written, if necessary – so you and your loved one understand exactly how to administer the medication for safety and maximum effect.

Do I need to avoid anything while taking this medication?

Sometimes, a medication can negatively interact with other prescriptions you may be taking, or with food or drink you consume.

Ask your doctor if there’s anything you should avoid, including alcohol, over-the-counter medications, or other food and drink, while taking the new prescription. Not complying fully with these instructions can cause serious drug interactions that may become life-threatening.

How soon can I expect this medication to work?

Some medications work immediately, while others may take a few days or even weeks to really begin to work. If you don’t know what to expect in terms of the time before you can know whether the medication is working, you may experience frustration or even head back to the doctor unnecessarily.

Your doctor should be able to tell you what to anticipate with regards to how quickly you may see results, so you know not to panic if you’re still experiencing symptoms a few days later.

How long do I need to take this medication?

Depending on the medication, and what it’s meant to do, you could be instructed to take it for a short period of time, or for the foreseeable future.

If you’re taking a short-term medication, such as an antibiotic, be sure that you get clear instructions on how long you need to continue taking it. Even if you feel better, finish out the course of the medicine.

Some medications will be reevaluated after a time to see if they’re still necessary to use, so talk with your doctor about how long you can expect before the doctor will discuss whether you still need the medication.

Quality Personal Care in Central Maryland

Whether your loved one is taking medication for a short-term condition or one that will last the rest of their life, managing dosing and symptoms is crucial to their health and wellness. At Advanced Nursing + Home Support, our team of experienced personal care providers can stay on top of their individual needs. From occasional daily care to long-term skilled nursing help, we’ve got a solution for you.

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