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ARTICLE Getting the Most of Your Medications

Getting the Most of Your Medications

Working with your doctor on drug choices is a great way to get the most out of your medications. Typically, your doctor can choose from many medications to treat the same illnesses. So it's important to take an active role by discussing your options and any side effects with your doctor. And be sure to take medication only as directed.

Discuss your options

Your doctor may consider factors like your age, physical condition and allergies when deciding which medication is right for you. Depending on your situation, there may be a number of choices available.

Consider asking your doctor:

  • Is a generic medication or lower-cost brand-name medication available? Just because a medication is heavily advertised doesn't mean it's right for you. Generic medications use the same active ingredients as their brand-name counterparts. And they might save you money. More than half of all prescriptions today are for generic medications.
  • Can you find over-the-counter relief? Many conditions can be managed without a prescription. But remember, even nonprescription items may interact with prescription medications. Discuss all medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements you're taking with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Can you get the prescription from a mail-order pharmacy? Many medications people take regularly are less expensive through a mail-order pharmacy. And, it's often more convenient to have your prescriptions mailed to your home.

Take all medications as directed

It's a good idea to review your medication instructions with your doctor or pharmacist. And ask plenty of questions.

  • Can you take it with other medicines?
  • How will it interact with vitamins and herbal or other supplements?
  • What dosage is prescribed?
  • Are there special instructions, such as "take on an empty stomach"?
  • Should you take your medication with water or juice? Should you avoid taking your medication with certain juices?
  • Are there any side effects?
  • What happens if you miss a dose of your medication?
  • Can you take a generic version?

Be sure to take the right amount as prescribed by your doctor - no more, no less. Take it at the right times and always read the warnings.

Discuss side effects with your doctor

Tell your doctor about adverse or unusual reactions to medications. Your doctor may have tips to help you avoid problems, including:

  • Changing the time of day you take your medication
  • Taking it on an empty or full stomach
  • Prescribing an additional medication to help manage side effects
  • Trying a different prescription