Got a new medication to take? Make sure you know these 4 aspects first

You have an appointment with your doctor.  He/she talks about a new problem but luckily, this can be treated easily.  There is a new medication and you get a prescription.  You take it and go to the pharmacy, pick up the new medication and head home to start and that’s all you have to do, right?


Medications can help but as with anything else, there are pros and cons.  Before you start a new medication, keep these 4 aspects in mind and make sure you have answers somewhere.

What? It is important to know the name of your medication.  Most have chemical names and brand names.  The pain pill acetaminophen, is called Panadol in some parts of the world, and Tylenol in others.  It is useful to have names committed to memory or written on paper somewhere it can be accessed easily.

Why?  If taking many medications, it can be confusing sometimes.  Yet, it is important to know which medicine is for which problem.  It may help to keep a small tabulation on a piece of paper or card that may look something like this:

Medication:  What for

Lisinopril:  Hypertension

Insulin:       Diabetes Mellitus


How important?  If you are like me, time is always a challenge and you wish you had 30 hours in each day.  Therefore, it would be crucial to know for example, that insulin is more important than the vitamin D supplement you take.  Missing a dose of insulin for a type I diabetic, can lead to a severe life-threatening complication.  On the other hand, missing a vitamin D supplement for one day or week or even one month, is not likely to cause any immediate harm.  When traveling, heading into weekends or public holidays, one needs to make sure that crucial medications are in adequate supply.

What else to know?  Some antibiotics do not mix well with alcohol.  Some people on steroids could be at risk for life-threatening complications if they get sick (such as from a viral cold) and do not mention they are taking steroids.  Some medications like blood thinners and immune suppressants for organ transplants must be taken religiously without missing doses.  Some medications should never be stopped abruptly, rather tapered off.  It is important to ask the prescribing physician about important details before taking any new medications.  In addition, the pharmacist can also provide more details.

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Written by 

Author of "Self navigate for health" available as eBook on Amazon and paperback on Lulu. Hematology-oncology physician writing about medical self-advocacy or "self-navigation", cancer, blood disorders, and books

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