Medication Safety: Talking to Your Pharmacist
Talking to your pharmacist about your prescription medications is an important part of taking care of yourself. Your pharmacist can help you understand what your medications do and how to take them properly. They can also advise you on nonprescription medications, vitamins and supplements.
Guidance from your pharmacist can help keep you healthier and reduce the risk of unpleasant side effects and dangerous drug interactions. But, it can be hard to know where to start or what to ask, especially when you take multiple medications. If you are unsure about how and when to talk to your pharmacist, you are not alone.
When Should I Talk To My Pharmacist?
You should feel comfortable talking to your pharmacist at any time. Their job is to answer your questions related to your medications and consult you on how to use them correctly. A good rule of thumb is to always contact your pharmacist when:
You start taking something new
You need to be careful about adding a new medication, vitamin or supplement to your routine. If they don’t work well together, you could be putting your health at risk without knowing it. Your pharmacist can tell you how to take them all safely. They can also tell you about common side effects and how to prevent or manage them.
You are having trouble taking your medications as directed
No matter the reason, you should always talk to your pharmacist if you are struggling with your medications. They will work with you — and your doctors, if needed — to help you find a solution. They can help with common issues like:
- Forgetting to take pills
- Trouble swallowing pills
- Labels that are hard to read
- Uneasy side effects
There is a change in your health
It is important for your pharmacist to know about any new allergy, symptom or diagnosis you have. A change in your health status could mean a change to your medications is needed.
Your health insurance or contact information changes
Keep your information up-to-date with your pharmacist to avoid any issues with getting your medications on time.
What Should I Ask My Pharmacist?
As a member of your health team, your pharmacist is prepared to answer any questions you may have about your medications. You can start by asking:
- Is there anything I need to know about starting this new medication?
- What is this medication for?
- What are the side effects of this medication?
- Can it be taken with all my other medications?
- When is the best time of day to take my medication?
- Can I take over the counter medications, vitamins or supplements with this?
- Do I need to be careful of certain things when taking this medication? For example, should I stay away from certain foods and beverages? Will it make me more likely to get a sun burn?
- Does this medication need to be stored a special way?
For your pharmacist to give you the best advice and help keep you safer, you will need to give them your complete medication list. This should include the name and dose amount of all your medications. You should also make a note of any vitamins and supplements you take.