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Questions to Ask About Your Medicines - Topic Overview

It's important to know as much as possible about the medicines you're taking. Here are some examples of questions you might ask your doctor or pharmacist:

What can you tell me about this medicine?

  • How will I know that this medicine is working? How long will it take before I notice anything?
  • Will I need any tests while I'm on this medicine?
  • Is an older or less expensive generic version available? Will it work for me?

Why am I taking it?

  • Why is this the right medicine for me?
  • Is there something I can do instead of taking this medicine?
  • Is there a medicine that could be better for someone my age? For a man or woman?

When and how do I take it?

  • How long will I have to take it? What if I begin to feel better?
  • When do I take it (early, late, morning, evening, before bed, once a day, other instructions)?
  • What if I miss a dose? Do I take two doses the next time? Do I take the missed dose right away?

What about food and drink?

  • Do I take this medicine with or without food or water? Can I use grapefruit juice? Should I avoid any food or drink when I take it?
  • How long before or after eating do I take it? Does it matter?
  • Is it okay to drink alcohol while I'm taking this medicine?

What about side effects and interactions?

  • What side effects can I expect, and how soon might they appear?
  • Will they go away on their own? How long will it take? Can I do anything to prevent or manage them?
  • When should I call about side effects?
  • Do any of my medicines cause a bad reaction with another one?

What else do I need to know?

  • Can I take this medicine at the same time as other medicines?
  • How do I store this medicine? Do I need to put it in the refrigerator?
  • If I have trouble swallowing, can I split the pill or crush it in food or drink?

Here are some forms that can help you keep track of what medicines you take and when to take them. You can also keep track of how well your medicines are working. Take these with you when you talk to your doctor about new and existing medicines.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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