Common Questions to Ask Your Pharmacist

pharmacist speak with a customerSometimes we see a trip to the pharmacy as just another inconvenience—another stop on the way home from the doctor’s office, or maybe one more monthly errand that we don’t have time for. But, did you know that your pharmacist is a vital part of your health care team? Pharmacists have specialized knowledge and skills, and if you aren’t taking advantage of these, then you’re missing out on a great resource!

Questions to ask your pharmacist

You’ll always receive an information sheet with your prescription medication, which lists the name of the drug (a brand name, generic name or both) and other basic information like how to take it and what side effects it may cause. If any of this isn’t clear (because sometimes it almost seems like a different language!), then your pharmacist will be happy to explain it to you.

Here are some other useful questions you can ask your pharmacist, depending on your own situation:
  • Do any of my medications interact with each other? Some medicines work with (or against) each other, making the intended effects—or even side effects—stronger or weaker. Some medications should never be taken at the same time.
  • Are there any foods, beverages, vitamins or other supplements I should avoid? Much like drug interactions, some medications can interact with food ingredients and other things we put into our bodies—even “natural” or herbal supplements.
  • Should I be concerned about a side effect? Your pharmacist can tell you if that unpleasant side effect you’re experiencing is likely to go away soon, or if you should expect to have it for as long as you take the medication—which may mean you want to talk to your doctor about a different treatment option. The pharmacist can even tell you if a side effect could be dangerous.
  • What if I miss a dose or accidentally take too much? With some medications, if you miss a dose, you should take it as soon as you remember—even if that means taking a double dose. With others, you should never take more than one dose at a time. If you do accidentally take too much, the pharmacist can tell you what you should do.
  • How long do I take this medication? Some prescriptions are taken only for a few days—maybe just until you feel better, like a cough medicine, or a set number of days even if you feel better sooner, like an antibiotic. Others need to be taken for several weeks or months, or until your doctor says you don’t need it anymore.

You may come up with other questions that you forgot to ask your doctor while you were in the office, or even questions about over-the-counter medications that don’t have anything to do with a prescription. When in doubt, ask your pharmacist—they can answer most questions about medications, and if they can’t, they can tell you where to find out.