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Questions to Ask When Your Doctor Prescribes a New Medicine

Though few people may want to take medicine each day, prescription drugs prolong lives and help people manage conditions that might otherwise make it difficult to live life to the fullest. A 2017 survey from Consumer Reports found that 55 percent of people living in the United States take a prescription medicine. The survey also

Though few people may want to take medicine each day, prescription drugs prolong lives and help people manage conditions that might otherwise make it difficult to live life to the fullest.

A 2017 survey from Consumer Reports found that 55 percent of people living in the United States take a prescription medicine. The survey also found that those who take prescription drugs use an average of four such medications. That figure might alarm some people, especially aging men and women whose bodies might be more susceptible to conditions that are often treated with medication.

There’s no denying that prescription drugs can save lives. But men and women have a right to explore their options when doctors prescribe them medications, and asking the right questions when doctors suggest medication can help men and women decide if prescription medicine is their best option.

To help men and women make the best decisions regarding their healthcare, the National Institute on Aging advises people to ask their physicians these questions when being prescribed a new medicine.

• What is the name of the medicine, and why am I taking it?
• Which medical condition does this medicine treat?
• How many times a day should I take the medicine, and at what times should I take it?
• If the prescription instructions say the medicine must be taken “four times a day,” does that mean four times in 24 hours or four times during the daytime?
• How much medicine should I take?
• Should I take the medicine on its own or with food? Should I avoid certain foods and beverages when taking this medicine?
• How long will it take this medicine to work?
• Will this medicine cause problems if I am taking other medicines?
• Can I safely operate a motor vehicle while taking this medication?
• What does “as needed” mean?
• When should I stop taking the medicine?
• What should I do if I forget to take my medicine?
• Can I expect any side effects? What should I do if I have a problem?
• Will I need a refill, and how do I arrange that?

When discussing medications with a physician, it’s imperative that men and women be forthcoming about any other medicines they might be taking under the guidance of other doctors. In addition, men and women should tell their physicians about any over-the-counter medicines or vitamins and supplements they are taking. Sharing such information can prevent potentially serious complications from arising.

Medicine saves lives every day. Smart patients can help medicine do its job by learning about their medications and discussing them openly and honestly with their physicians.

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