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Prescription Meds: Are You Reading the Fine Print?

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Many Americans are doing the prescription drug dance, which entails taking multiple medications at various times of day and trying their best to avoid the side effects. Whether you suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, auto-immune diseases, dementia, or even cancer, there are medications available to help you heal. However, taking prescription meds should bring up some important questions to discuss with your doctor or pharmacist. 

Don’t go in blindly.

Your physician is there to help you get better or provide support for an ongoing condition. However, doctors don’t always know what concerns or questions their patients have, especially when it comes to prescription meds. They may assume that patients will take the time to read through the warnings and potential side effects in the medication’s accompanying literature. It is important to feel empowered enough in your relationship with your healthcare provider that you can ask questions and be heard on the other end. Don’t minimize your concerns. 

Consider your needs.

Your health is just that: yours. If you find yourself wondering whether you need a prescription medication or could just try an alternative route, speak to your doctor about which options are available to you. Check with your doctor about lifestyle changes, alternative therapies, and other avenues you could potentially try before medications. Seeking a second opinion before starting a medication is also reasonable. Even if you decide that medication is right for you in the end, at least you did your research.

Know what to expect.

When you start taking a prescription, there will most likely be a whole host of side effects entering the picture. These can range from mild to severe depending on the medication and can involve the gastrointestinal tract, as many meds are taken orally. Others may cause dizziness or fatigue. More serious side effects can include death if a medication is not taken correctly. It is vital that you speak with your doctor so you know what to expect from a prescription medication as well as the hazards and side effects of taking it. 

Get your whole team on board.

If you are struggling with a chronic illness, chances are that you have a healthcare team. This may include specialists, a primary doctor, and even pharmacists. Make sure everyone is on board with your most current list of medications. Carrying a list of these medications is good practice for everyone, especially those with chronic illness. Feel free to share your list at doctor appointments. Although computer systems are helpful in keeping things up to date, it is best to confirm with your doctor directly regarding your medications. And if your list of medications just seems to keep growing, check in with your healthcare team to see if they are all necessary. 

Expect trial and error.

Whenever you start a new prescription, there will be a time of adjustment to make sure the dosage is correct. Furthermore, you will need to become acclimated to the side effects. Most doctors hope that their patients will experience a decrease in side effects over time. However, you should keep your doctor in the know if things are not getting better for you. The point of starting a prescription medication is to help you feel better, not worse. Many times, you will be able to find a medication that helps your condition without affecting your quality of life. It may, however, just take persistence and trying a few different meds first. 

Empowering yourself to ask questions about prescription medications is an important step in taking charge of your health. Speak to your doctor, voice your concerns, and make sure to ask about all the possible side effects or hazards of medications you are taking. 

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