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Know Your Meds

Nearly 6 out of 10 people take at least one prescription medication and 21 % take at least 3 medications daily. Your pharmacist is there to make sure you know the why, the how, and for how long you are taking your prescription. 

All drugs have side effects, some are more pronounced than others, but make sure you ask what the top 3 side effects are to watch out for when starting a new medication and if they have any interaction with your current regimen. All prescriptions can have multiple uses, such as the blood pressure medication Inderal (propranolol) can reduce your blood pressure but it is also an excellent agent for essential tremors and can be also used by public speakers who have a racing heart before a big talk.  So, make sure to mention to the pharmacist or healthcare worker the reason you are taking it. 

All drugs have 2 names – a trade name and a generic name as in the example above  - Inderal is the trade name of the product and its generic name is Propranolol. In addition, Inderal also comes in Long Acting (LA) and Extended Release (XL) formulation. So, Know the Names and the Strengths of your medications. 

Here are some other things that are important to know about every prescription medication that you take:

  • Time of day

  • With food or on an empty stomach

  • Length of time you will be on the medication - how many days

  • What to do if you miss a dose or two

  • Potential side-effects and what to do if you experience any

Let’s double-click on side effects for the moment. More importantly, you need to know at least 3 side effects of every drug you are taking. All drugs have side effects. Although many side effects are minor and not harmful, roughly 10 % of all patients wind up in the ER or get admitted to the hospital each year because of side effects or drug-to-drug interactions.  It is important to let your doctor know, as the side effect may be a sign of danger or that the medication is not working properly. For example, some medicines may interact badly with certain foods, other medications, or even food supplements, and can make you very ill. 

All of this information is contained in the printed materials that come with every prescription you pick up at the local pharmacy or that you receive in the mail. It is your responsibility to take your medication correctly as prescribed. 

This can seem overwhelming.  But, don’t stress over this.  Simply remember that your healthcare provider prescribed the drug because you need it to address a health issue.  Taking the prescription as prescribed is very important.  If you have any concerns or questions speak up… talk to your doctor or pharmacist.  They are there to help you.

To learn about the Best Practices for Saving Money on Rx Costs, click here.