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Five Questions to Ask Before Taking Any New Medicine

You often hear that you should ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about medicines, whether they are prescription, over-the-counter, or alternative medicine products. Great advice--but what questions should you ask? Before you take any new medicine, be sure to ask the following 5 questions:

  • What are the precise instructions for taking and storing this medicine properly?
  • Can I take this safely with my other medicines, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, vitamins, or supplements?
  • Should I avoid certain foods, beverages, other products or certain activities when taking this medicine?
  • What are the possible side effects I should be aware of?
  • What are the possible drug interactions that may occur?

In addition, if you are trying to become pregnant, if you may be pregnant or if you are pregnant or nursing, be sure to tell your physician this before taking any new medicine. Most importantly, read the label on the product as well as any additional information for patients inside the package. . .even though the print is often too small, the information may have a big impact on how much you benefit from the medicine or on the side effects you may experience. In addition to being able to answer many of your questions, the label also usually includes a telephone number to contact for further information. If you lose or misplace the package insert, this information is also generally available online.

Created: 2/27/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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