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herbal medicines
vitamin supplements
alternative medicine
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Know Your Medicines
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Know Your Medicines

What happens when the treatment does not show the desired effect? A variety of reactions set in – disappointment, anger and frustration. Doctors are frequently changed, or are declared to be inefficient, and then finally, the suffering is accepted as fate.

In today scenario, the doctor population ratio is very low. With a heavy workload and so little time, it is impossible for a doctor to educated patients in detail about the treatment prescribed.

Medicines, whether obtained from a natural or synthetic source, need to be taken with care. As you are the one to be affected, it is imperative that you ask questions about your medicines and get to know more about your ailment.

So, how and where do you begin?

Start from your visit to your doctor. The doctor is your friend. Attempting to hide anything from him, however trivial, can have serious repercussions on you.

Give him an accurate account of your past and present illnesses in chronological order. As we are on the subject of medicines, inform him about the medicines you have taken, how effective they were, when they were discontinued, what the alternative medicine was, etc.

What medicines are you taking at present?

Mention allergies if you have any. Always state your correct age, as the dose varies in babies, children, adults and the elderly.

Do not forget to mention whether you are taking any vitamin supplements, or Homeopathic or Ayurvedic medicines. Certain herbal medicines, harmless though they may seem, have been known to cause a change in blood pressure and heart rate.


Some patients do not even ask their doctor what their exact problem is! Find out more about your illness. Will the treatment have to be taken for a short time or a long time?

Will the disease be completely eradicated, or is it just a temporary cure? Is surgery necessary?

Find out the exact spelling of the medicine written on the prescription. If you cannot understand clearly what it is, do not hesitate to ask. In no way does it reflect on your ability to read. Rather, it can save you from the risk of being given the wrong medicine by the chemist.

In what form is the medication prescribed?

Is it a tablet, capsule, powder, ointment, suppository, syrup or injection? In case of injection, ensure that a sterile disposable syringe is used. Certain medicines are meant only for external use and are not to be swallowed. Usually, information leaflets are provided with the medicines. Read them carefully before use.


Timing of the medicine? How many tablets have to be taken – morning, noon and bedtime?

Should they be taken on an empty stomach, before food or after food? Should the tablet be swallowed whole or sucked in the mouth? If you break the tablet in the mouth, will it affect the action of the drug?

Suppose you start feeling better, should you stop your medicines or should you finish the entire courses?

Medicines produce a wide range of effects on the human body. While the good affects are necessary to treat diseases , the bad side-effects sometimes do not go away and can prove to be irritating. Find out what these side-effects are and what should be done, in case they occur.

If you take 2 or more medicines together, they can interact with each other, reducing their individual potency or causing side-effects. This is called “drug interaction.” To avoid this, it’s best to space your drugs.

Ask about diet modifications. For instance, salt intake has to be decreased in patients with high blood pressure. Do not forget to mention your alcohol intake to the doctor.

Will the medication have any effect on your job?

Will it cause lethargy and sleepiness? Is it all right to drive and swim, or should such activities be suspended?

Certain medicines are contra-indicated during pregnancy and breast feeding (as they can affect the baby) and in certain conditions like glaucoma, asthma and peptic ulcer. So, be sure to give correct information to your doctor about your medical history.

Ensure that the chemist gives you the correct medicine. Tally it with what the doctor has written. If the medicine is not available, ask the doctor (and not the chemist) for a substitute.

Remember to check the expiry date and do not buy any out-dated stuff even at a discount rate.

Caring for your medicines at home is equally important. Store them away from heat and light. Children could get fascinated by the bright colors of the tablets and capsules, and mistake them for candies.

So the medicine cupboard should always be locked to prevent accidental poisoning. Go through your medicines periodically, and throw away any which are discolored or which have crossed the expiry date.

Do not tamper with the dose of the medicines yourself and change it according to the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor knows best.

Do not give your medicines to others and do not use medicines recommended by others on the grounds that they were effective for them. Everybody is different and what is good for one may not necessarily be good for another. A frequently encountered problem is wondering whether you have taken your dose of medicine or not. To deal with this, you can write down what you have taken. Or, you can keep your daily supply of medicine divided in transparent, labeled, tiny plastic pouches. This way you will know how much has been consumed. Be a responsible and informed patient. After all, it’s your own body you are dealing with.

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