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Answers to Common Medication-Related Questions

Ask an ExactCare Pharmacist

Everyone has questions from time to time about their medications. Your pharmacist is a great resource to help answer these types of questions! Pharmacists are the medication experts on your healthcare team. They have extensive education about medications, how they interact with one another, and how they can support your health. Here, we provide some answers to common medication-related questions featuring one of ExactCare’s own clinical pharmacists, Reeya Patel, PharmD, BCMTMS.


Reeya Patel, PharmD, BCMTMS

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My symptoms have gone away. Can I stop taking my medication?

If you’re starting to feel better and notice an improvement in symptoms, it likely means your medication is working! You should never stop taking your medication without speaking with your doctor or pharmacist, first. They will determine the best course of action for your treatment.

You may start feeling better and want to stop taking your medication, but it may be the reason you are feeling better. If you stop, your symptoms could come right back.

It is risky to stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor. This is called non-adherence (not taking your prescriptions the way your doctor intended). It can lead to increased hospital stays or other serious health risks.

Potential Side Effects If You Stop Taking Your Prescriptions

Sudden changes in how you take your medication can cause your symptoms to worsen or reappear and even cause unpleasant side effects. This includes changing how much medication you take, how frequently you take them, and when you take them.

Medications should be gradually decreased over time rather than abruptly—and only with specific guidance from your doctor or pharmacist. This will help ensure you do not end up with symptoms that make you even feel worse than before.

Symptoms can be more severe based on the length of time you have been taking a certain prescription. It’s important to know what side effects and withdrawal symptoms you could experience. Here are just a few examples:

  • Antibiotics: If you have an infection and stop antibiotics without finishing the entire course of treatment, the infection could remain in your body. Even if you are not feeling sick and believe your symptoms have gone away, you need to finish all of the medication. Bacteria can still be present and make you feel sick again. Not finishing your full treatment could also lead to antibiotic resistance. This means the bacteria in your body defeats the medications designed to kill them. They will continue to grow, evolve, and become resistant to medications.
  • Antidepressants: If you stop an antidepressant because your symptoms have gone away, they could immediately come back. The faster you quit, the greater your chances are for relapse. It’s important to speak with your doctor or pharmacist to determine the best option for you. Before you stop, it’s best to have other coping mechanisms in place. You can try options that don’t involve medications like exercise or therapy. Antidepressant withdrawal symptoms include headache, lightheadedness, nausea and sweating.
  • Cholesterol and Blood Pressure Medications: Stopping these types of medications because you feel better can cause your cholesterol or blood pressure to worsen. As a result, you can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Cholesterol and blood pressure prescription withdrawal symptoms include feeling like your heart is racing, chest pain, anxiety, and swelling in the hands and feet.

Reasons People Stop Taking Their Medications

There are many reasons people may stop taking their medications including feeling like their symptoms have stopped, not noticing any improvement in their condition, and cost. In all of these situations—and any others—you should always talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

What Do I Do If I’m Feeling Better?

You are prescribed medication for a very specific purpose. If you’re feeling better, that likely means your medications are working. Just because you’re feeling better does not mean you can stop taking your medication. Stopping medication can cause your symptoms to come back. Many factors need to be considered before you make any changes. Always speak to your doctor or pharmacist to discuss your options.

What Do I Do If I Feel Like My Prescription Isn’t Working?

If you feel like your prescription isn’t working, you should discuss your options with your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to provide you alternative treatments that could work better.

Your pharmacist is a key member of your health care team and can provide guidance on medication safety.

What Do I Do If I Can’t Afford My Medication?

If the cost of your medication is preventing you from taking it, you should talk to your pharmacist or doctor about potential lower-cost alternatives. Sometimes, there is a generic form of a medication that can still be effective. You can also contact your insurance provider or call the Social Security Office at 1-800-772-1213 and ask to be considered for zero copayments. Another option is to call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 and ask if there is an insurance plan that has zero copayments.

Making a Plan with Your Doctor

If your doctor says it is okay to reduce or stop your prescription, work with them to develop a plan to maintain your overall health.

Here are some things to coordinate with your doctor:

  • Develop a clear timeline for lowering your dose.
  • Monitor progress and schedule follow-up appointments with your doctor.
  • Ask about side effects and anything that could be a cause for concern. Know when you should call your doctor.

The plan may need to be changed as you go. Sometimes it can be a process of trial and error to determine what works best for you. Remember to always talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you need assistance.

If you have questions about your medication, give us a call at 1-877-355-7225.



Information featured on the ExactCare website, including the Ask a Pharmacist page, should not be considered medical advice. Please consult your pharmacist or doctor for advice regarding your personal health situation. If ExactCare is your pharmacy, call us directly to talk to your pharmacist: 1-877-355-7225


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