Your pharmacist plays an important part in helping you understand what your medicines are for and how to take them. This includes prescription and non-prescription (over the counter) medicines or dietary supplements you buy from the supermarket such as paracetamol, cold medicines, vitamins, or natural remedies. Pharmacists can educate you about your medicines - and the more you know, the better you'll feel.
Questions you might ask your pharmacist about your medicines include:
• What is the name of my medicine and what does it do?
• When should I expect the medicine to start working, and how will I know if it is?
• Am I supposed to take it with something to eat?
• What time of day should I take it?
• What should I do if I forget to take a dose?
• Are there any side effects to watch out for?
• What should I do if I feel better and don't want to finish taking all of it?
• Is it okay to take with other medicines, alcohol or natural remedies?
• Is it safe to use if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
• What should I do if it doesn't seem to work?
Your pharmacist can answer all these questions and provide medicine and other health-related information. Every time you take your prescription to a pharmacy the pharmacist will make sure:
• the information provided by the prescriber eg doctor, dentist or midwife is complete.
• the medicine, strength and instructions on how to take it are appropriate in light of your medicine history and your age if very young/old.
• the new prescription is okay to take with the other medicines you are taking including ones you buy yourself.
• there are no problems such as having duplicate therapy or medicines that don't work well together.
• you are not allergic to the medicine.
• your medicines are working for you and you are not having any problems.
Your pharmacist will tell you about the medicine and will confirm/explain:
• what the medicine is for.
• why it might look different from last time.
• how to use it properly and what special precautions to take eg to avoid sunlight or not to lie down for 30 minutes after taking it.
• what foods or medicines to avoid.
• common side effects, what to expect, how long they might last and how to treat them.
• what other medicines interact with it and stops it working best
• how soon to expect the medicine to work.
• what to do if you miss a dose.
• where to store your medicine and how dispose of unused medicines safely.
It is a good idea to carry with you an up-to-date list of all your medicines including any non-prescription medicines, even if you bought them in the supermarket. Many medicines, including natural health products and herbal supplements may interfere with the ones your doctor prescribed. Taking your medicine properly is an important part of taking care of yourself. You should also be sure to tell the pharmacist about any allergies you have. Your pharmacist can offer suggestions on lifestyle and other self-care measures.
You should not share your medicines with anyone, even if they have the same symptoms or condition that you have. It may hurt them.
Do not leave any medicines where children or pets can get them.
Return unused or expired medicines to your pharmacist - they will dispose of them properly.