Minimizing Risks from Medications
Whether prescription or over-the-counter (OTC), no medicine is without risk. Besides benefits, medicines may cause side effects, allergic reactions, and interactions with foods, drinks, or other drugs.
For prescription drugs, a patient's first step to safe and effective treatment is to ask the doctor questions with each new prescription.
- What is the medicine's name, and what is it supposed to do?
- How and when do I take it, and for how long?
- While taking this medicine, should I avoid:
- certain foods or dietary supplements
- caffeine, alcohol, or other beverages
- other medicines, prescription and OTC
- certain activities, such as driving or smoking?
- Will this new medicine work safely with prescription and OTC medicines I'm already taking?
- Are there side effects, and what do I do if they occur?
- Will the medicine affect my sleep or activity level?
- What should I do if I miss a dose?
- Is there written information available about the medicine?
It's wise to write down the answers to these questions immediately, to make sure you'll remember all the details.