Being Responsible With New Medications
Most people will take a new medication prescribed by a physician without hesitation. And while in most cases, negative reactions are unlikely, some people may experience problems. Although the first point of contact should be speaking with a physician to understand any potential risks that new medications can pose, pharmacists can also serve as educational support. Consider asking the following questions the next time a doctor prescribes a new medication.
1. What drug interactions might occur
Not all medications play well together. Ideally, a physician should already be aware of current medications and amend future prescriptions to limit negative interactions. But in some cases, a medication might be required even if drug interactions are possible. While physicians should explain any potential concerns prior to writing a prescription, patients are also encouraged to speak with a pharmacist when filling a prescription. Being aware of what could go wrong and what to do if that event occurs ensures that people are prepared for any outcome.
2. How long should the medication be taken?
Not all prescriptions are intended to be used for the long term. But along with knowing when to stop taking a medication, people should be aware that sometimes short-term medications might mean higher doses with the potential for side effects. For example, steroids are usually not prescribed for extended periods. Often the first few doses may be higher in potency and can cause side effects like jitteriness and even blood sugar spikes. Conversely, the longer a person remains on a medication, the greater the chance of experiencing side effects.
3. Are side effects possible?
People should note that a variety of reasons can contribute to medication-induced side effects. In some scenarios, side effects are the result of interactions with other medications a person is taking. Additionally, some side effects may happen naturally as a result of the body adjusting to the substance. But sometimes, prescriptions can cause side effects because of human error. For example, some medications shouldn’t be mixed with certain foods or consumed with alcohol. Knowing what possible side effects could occur ensures that people are aware of potential risks and can adjust behaviors that might contribute to problems.
Staying in the know
Ideally, people should treat physicians as the first line of defense when understanding the benefits and risks of taking a new medication. However, sometimes people forget to ask questions during a doctor’s appointment or might feel intimidated. Pharmacists are well-versed on medications and can serve as a trusted source to ensure that patients are informed and empowered whether taking a new drug or trying to understand how current medications might impact daily life.