Your medication list is not up to date
While keeping track of your medications can be cumbersome, it’s the only way your health care providers can help prevent possible drug interactions. We live in a time when more people than ever are taking prescription drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), physicians ordered or provided 2.8 billion drugs for their patients in 2013 and those numbers have risen steadily over the years. Of the billions of drugs that are being prescribed, a rising number of patients are taking more than just one medication, and that’s why it’s essential to keep track. What’s involved? “Make a list of all the medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you are taking and keep it up to date,” says Heidi N. Anksorus, PharmD, clinical assistant professor at the University of North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy. You should be prepared when you go to see your health care professional or pharmacist. “Telling your doctor that you ‘take a little white blood pressure pill that starts with a A’ won’t help—there are a million little white pills that start with an A,” says Anksorus.
You’re starting a new prescription
Side effects from medicines can happen at any time, but they are more likely to occur when starting a new medicine or changing dosages, explains Jennifer L. Bacci, PharmD, assistant professor and Kelley-Ross Faculty Fellow at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy in Seattle. When picking up a new medicine at the pharmacy, have your pharmacist explain the specific signs and/or symptoms that might indicate you are experiencing a side effect of that medication. The pharmacist can also tell you if the symptoms will go away after time and when you should call your doctor. “Some medications such as antibiotics, cause nausea, but it is not serious, it is manageable,” says Anksorus, “And with some medications, the side effects will disappear, but you have to stick with it for a couple of weeks.” Anksorus says that it is just as important that patients know that certain side effects will not go away. “Blood pressure medications may cause a cough that won’t go away.” With serious side effects such as blood in the urine or stool, shortness of breath, blurred vision, or an intense headache, you don’t want to take a wait-and-see approach, she explains. You need to call your doctor or go to the emergency room. Don’t miss these questions you should ask your doctor before trying a new prescription.