Receiving a diagnosis is often just the beginning of your pathway to recovery. Your doctor may prescribe medication as part of your treatment, but it’s up to you to take the meds and follow your doctor’s recommendations.
When starting a new medication, it’s important to be active in your care. Your doctor won’t be there with you 24/7 to ensure you’re taking your pills, but they can answer your questions about your treatment plan and help set you up for success.
It would help if you asked them questions such as:
What Is This Medication For?
You might not need to know the full complexities of how pharmaceutical chemicals interact with your body. Still, it can at least be helpful to have a general understanding of what your medication is supposed to do and why it is being prescribed.
How Do I Take This Medication?
This includes questions about how often to take the medication, whether you should take it with food, and what time of day is best. Your doctor can also help you understand why—if you ask. For example, they may tell you that it will give you an upset stomach if you don’t take it with food, or they may encourage you to take it at night because it will make you sleepy.
What Are The Potential Side Effects?
All medications come with potential side effects, and it’s essential to be aware of them before starting a new medication.
You should also be aware of what side effects are considered normal and which ones may cause concern. If something is not interacting with you the right way, your doctors need to know as soon as possible.
What If I Miss A Dose?
With some conditions and treatment plans, missing a single dose can harm your health. In other cases, it may not be a big deal. But regardless, you should know the consequences of missing a dose and what you should do if it happens.
What Should I Avoid While Taking This?
Sometimes, things can make a medication less effective or even dangerous. There may be foods, drinks, other medications, or activities that you should avoid while taking your new prescription. For example, you might not be able to drive a car or operate machinery.
How Long Do I Need To Be On This?
This is an important question for both your understanding of the medication and your expectations. Sometimes, medication may be a short-term solution to a problem. In other cases, it may be something you need to take for the rest of your life. Your doctor may tell you only to take it as long as your symptoms are present, or they may advise that you continue treatment even after your symptoms have resolved.
Why It’s Important
Medication nonadherence is estimated to cause at least 100,000 deaths each year and over $100 billion in preventable medical costs.
If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. If you’re still confused after your doctor has explained it to you, ask them to explain it differently or have someone else explain it to you.
Take notes or record them on your cell phone if you need to. Then, you need to make sure you follow their instructions. If they tell you not to do something, don’t do it. If they tell you to take your medication a certain way, take it that way.