Questions For Your Pharmacist

January 17, 2014

Five Important Questions to Ask Your Pharmacist

The cold and flu season is upon us!  Many people treat simple sniffles and coughs with over-the-counter medications, but more serious symptoms may send you to the doctor’s office.  If so, you will most likely come away with a medication prescription.  To feel better quickly, it’s important to take the medicine correctly, so every time you pick up a new prescription you should ask your pharmacist these questions:

  1. Will this drug interact with any other medications I am taking?  For example, antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of contraceptives.  Be sure to include any herbs or supplements you take regularly.  Certain foods and juices or other beverages, such as grapefruits and coffee, can also interfere with medications and even render them useless.
  2. Should I take this medication at a certain time of day and for how long?  Some medications can cause insomnia if taken close to bedtime.  Antibiotics should be taken until they are all gone, while other medications should be taken only as needed for relief of symptoms.
  3. What are the side effects? The pharmacist can explain the difference between a normal side effect and a potentially dangerous allergic reaction.  They can also suggest ways to counter the side effects, such as taking pain medication with a little food or milk to avoid nausea.
  4. If I experience a serious reaction, who should I call?  A sudden rash or hives can be treated at the doctor’s office, but difficulty breathing is potentially life-threatening and requires an emergency room visit.
  5. Can I split or crush this medication?  Some tablets are very large and difficult to swallow.   Ask if you can crush the tablets and mix the powder with applesauce or pudding, or split them in half to make them easier to swallow.  Just be sure to take all of the medication required for the recommended dosage.

Your local pharmacist is the health care professional most available to the general public.  Get to know him or her and don’t hesitate to ask questions about your medications.  It’s an important part of your good health!