- Dr.'s Expertise
- How It Works
- Side Effects
- Generic Version
- Drug Interactions
- What Else to Know
How well do you know about the drugs you are taking?
Whether synthetic or natural (herbal), drugs are intended to act on the body. There always is a chance that they will produce effects that we do not want. Whenever two or more drugs are taken at the same time, there is a chance that one drug will interact with another drug in either a positive or negative way, so it's important to consult your doctor about all drugs you are taking.
Drugs should be used carefully in order to reap the greatest benefit while minimizing unwanted side effects. When used properly, most drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration do more good than harm.
Make a list of your questions about the medications you are taking and discuss any concerns with your doctor. To start, here are some questions you can ask your doctor.
1. How does the drug work?
- Knowing how the drug works provides the rationale for its use in the treatment of a particular disease. This also promotes adherence to treatment.
2. Why did my doctor prescribe this drug?
- Drugs often have more than one use. Understanding why a drug is prescribed improves your knowledge about the drug and the condition for which it is prescribed.
- This promotes compliance with treatment. It is a good idea to write down why each drug was prescribed to share this information with other health-care professionals or caregivers.
4. What are the possible side effects of the drug?
- Since drugs provide a benefit by modifying processes in the body, it is not surprising that they also have side effects.
- Successful drug therapy produces the desired beneficial effect without unbearable side effects. Therefore, it is important to know what a drug's side effects are so that they can be recognized, prevented, and acted upon appropriately when they occur.
5. Should you use a generic version of the drug?
- Generic drugs work the same as the brand name drugs, but they are cheaper. Purchasing a generic instead of a brand name drug can often reduce the cost of therapy while providing the same benefit.
6. What should you expect the drug to do?
- Some drugs cure the condition for which they are prescribed while other drugs only provide relief from symptoms. Some drugs provide an immediate benefit while other drugs require more time to be effective.
- To determine whether the drug is working as intended, it is important to know the expected result and how long it will take to see that result.
7. How should the drug be taken?
- The optimal dose and timing of ingestion of a drug are determined by scientific studies. Drugs provide their greatest benefit when they are taken as prescribed.
- Deviating from the prescribed dose often leads to failure of the therapy or to side effects. However, in some circumstances (for example, when severe side effects occur), changes in dose may be appropriate, but they should be discussed with a health care professional as soon as possible.
8. What should you do if you miss a dose?
- Despite the best of efforts, eventually everyone misses one or more doses of a medication. The remedy for this situation depends on the drug.
- For some drugs, simply taking the missed dose as soon as possible is appropriate. For other drugs, it is more appropriate to wait and double the next scheduled dose. (However, this can be dangerous with some drugs.)
- Since the recommendations differ for each drug, knowing the correct remedy can prevent the therapy from failing and side effects from occurring.
9. What foods and substances interact with the drug?
- Interactions with drugs are common and they can cause side effects or reduce the beneficial effect of the drug. Sometimes, the interaction may promote a beneficial effect.
- Knowing which interacting agents to avoid while taking a drug (for example, food, and herbal drugs) will prevent failure of therapy and side effects. It is a good idea to let your pharmacist and all health care professionals know the drugs you are taking so potential drug interactions can be avoided.
- Also, ask about alternative treatments and how effective they are.
10. How should I dispose of any unused drugs?
To safe guard the health of children, pets, and the environment; and to reduce drug abuse; drugs should be disposed of responsibly.
The FDA recommends the following for safe disposal of unused or expired medications:
- Follow specific recommendations for disposal instructions on the drug label or patient information packet provided with the medication.
- Do not flush drugs down the sink or toilet unless the packet information on the drug specifically instructs to do so.
- Check to see if your community has a drug take-back program that allows the public to bring unused drugs to a specific location for disposal.
- If you do not have access to a disposal program in your area to dispose of unused drugs it is recommended you throw the drugs in the garbage after taking the following steps:
- Remove the drugs from their original container and mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter (this makes the drugs less appealing to pets, children, and people who intentionally dig through the trash seeking drugs).
- Place the mixture in a sealable container, can, or bag to prevent leakage.
- Remove all identifying information on the prescription labels so they are unreadable. This helps protect your identify and personal health information.
- Do not give prescription medications to friends or family members. A medication that is effective for you, may be dangerous for someone else.
- Ask your health care professional or pharmacist if you have any questions about proper disposal of unused or expired medicaitons.
- Disposal of prescription drug disposal methods can be applied to over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
- Inquire about any special instructions for disposing the unused or expired medications you have taken.
11. Who manufacturers the drug?
- Drug manufacturers often have education materials, programs, and other resources that may help you understand your health condition and its management. They may also have prescription assistance programs.
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Important information about your drugs should be reviewed prior to taking any prescription drug. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precauctions, dosage, what the drug is used for, what to do if you miss a dose, how the drug is to be stored, and generic vs. brand names.
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Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include: ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease. ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure cap: Capsule. CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea. DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis. DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes HA: Headache IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis JT: Joint N/V: Nausea or vomiting. p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os. q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily. RA: Rheumatoid arthritis SOB: Shortness of breath. T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
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What Kind of Drugs Are Mood Stabilizers?
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Is ADHD Medication a Controlled Substance?
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- metronidazole antibiotic
- Birth Control Pills (Oral Contraceptives)
- Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
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- Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, Augmentin XR, Augmentin ES-600, Amoclan)
- Beta Blockers
- Cipro, Cipro XR
- Levaquin (levofloxacin) Antibiotic
- codeine (for Pain)
- celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Anxiolytics (for Anxiety) Drug Class Side Effects
- lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil, Qbrelis) ACE Inhibitor
- ipratropium bromide inhaler (Atrovent)
- amlodipine besylate
- fentanyl patch (Duragesic)
- Oxycodone for Pain (OxyContin, Roxicodone, Oxecta, Oxaydo, Xtampza ER, Roxybond)
- tretinoin (Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Atralin, Avita)
- Cox-2 Inhibitors
- diazepam (Valium, Diastat, Acudial, Diastat Pediatric, Diazepam Intensol)
- fluticasone (Flonase, Flonase Allergy Relief)
- cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril, Amrix, Fexmid)
- Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen, Roxicet, Tylox, Oxycet)
- amiodarone, Cordarone, Nextrone, Pacerone
- levothyroxine sodium (Synthroid, Levoxyl)
- montelukast, Singulair
- diltiazem (Cardizem, Cardizem CD, Cardizem LA, Tiazac, Cartia XT, Diltzac, Dilt-CD, and several oth)
- dicyclomine, Bentyl
- mirtazapine (Remeron, Soltab)
- estradiol, Alora, Climara, Delestrogen, Depo-Estradiol, Divigel, Elestrin, Estrace, and Others
- alteplase (TPA, Activase, Cathflo Activase)
- buspirone (Buspar)
- isotretinoin (Accutane, Claravis, Amnesteem, Absorica, Zenatane)
- albuterol (Ventolin, Proventil)
- Aldactone (spironolactone)
- temazepam (Restoril)
- clopidogrel bisulfate (Plavix)
- amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)
- lithium (Lithobid)
- phentermine (Adipex-P)
- fluvoxamine (Luvox)
- Tramadol (Ultram) Side Effects
- orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
- rituximab (Rituxan)
- warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)
- minoxidil (Rogaine)
- penicillin V
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- metoclopramide, Reglan, Metozolv ODT, (Reglan ODT, Octamide, and Maxolon
- mesalamine (Pentasa, Rowasa, SfRowasa, Lialda, Canasa, Apriso, Delzicol)
- loratadine, Claritin, Claritin RediTabs, Alavert, Claritin Hives Relief, Children's Claritin
- budesonide (oral inhalation, Pulmicort, Pulmicort Flexhaler)
- Zocor (simvastatin)
- baclofen (Gablofen, Lioresal)
- lansoprazole (Heartburn Relief 24 Hour, Heartburn Treatment 24 Hour, Prevacid 24)
- promethazine and codeine, Phenergan with Codeine
- chlorthalidone (Thalitone)
- propafenone (Rythmol)
- benazepril (Lotensin HTC)
- triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide
- carisoprodol (Soma)
- prednisolone (Orapred, Pediapred)
- captopril (Capoten)
- digoxin (Lanoxin, Lanoxin Pediatric)
- tamoxifen (Soltamox, Nolvadex)
- nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat, Afeditab)
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- bisoprolol (Zebeta)
- misoprostol, Cytotec
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- oseltamivir (Tamiflu)
- nortriptyline (Pamelor)
- isosorbide mononitrate (Imdur, Ismo, Monoket)
- dexamethasone (Decadron, DexPak)
- tacrolimus (Prograf, Astagraf XL, Envarsus XR)
- triazolam (Halcion)
- Allopurinol (Zyloprim, Aloprim)
- fexofenadine (Allegra, Mucinex Allergy)
- zolpidem (Ambien)
- hydrocortisone valerate
- diphenoxylate and atropine (Lomotil)
- Lotrisone (clotrimazole and betamethasone topical cream and lotion)
- flurbiprofen (Ansaid)
- clozapine (Clozaril, Fazacio ODT, Versacloz)
- Amaryl (glimepiride)
- carbamazepine, Tegretol, Tegretol XR , Equetro, Carbatrol, Epitol, Teril
- sumatriptan, Imitrex, Alsuma, Imitrex STATdose System, Sumavel DosePro
- nefazodone (Serzone)
- loratadine and pseudoephedrine (Alavert Allergy & Sinus, Claritin-D, Claritin-D 24 hour)
- gemfibrozil (Lopid)
- sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
- chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride and clidinium bromide (Librax)
- atenolol and chlorthalidone, Tenoretic
- chlorpheniramine and hydrocodone, Tussionex, TussiCaps, Tussionex Pennkinetic, Vituz
- desipramine (Norpramin)
- glipizide (Glipizide XL, Glucotrol)
- zafirlukast (Accolate)
- pentoxifylline (Trental, Pentoxil)
- imipramine (Tofranil)
- cefprozil (Cefzil)
- Primsol (trimethoprim)
- Actos (pioglitazone)
- pramoxine (Itch-X, PrameGel, Orax, Sarna Sensitive, and Others)
- budesonide nasal inhaler (Rhinocort Allergy, Rhinocort Aqua)
- repaglinide (Prandin)
- timolol ophthalmic solution (Timoptic)
- felodipine (Plendil)
- Diprolene Lotion (betamethasone dipropionate)
- Herceptin (trastuzumab)
- cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
- isosorbide dinitrate (Isordil Titradose)
- meclofenamate (Meclomen)
- risedronate (Actonel, Atelvia)
- Lotrel (amlodipine and benazepril)
- calcitonin (Miacalcin)
- medroxyprogesterone (Depo-Provera)
- nadolol (Corgard)
- terconazole (Terazol, Zazole)
- ProHance (gadoteridol)
- zanamivir (Relenza)
- choline magnesium salicylate, Trilisate
- timolol (Betimol)
- quinidine (Discontinued Brands: Cardioquine, Cin-Quin, Duraquin, Quinidex, Quinora, Quinact)
- chlorpropamide, Diabinese
- Evista (raloxifene)
- beclomethasone dipropionate inhaler (Qvar)
- Sectral (acebutolol)
- salsalate, Amigesic, Salflex, Argesic-SA, Marthritic, Salsitab, Artha-G
- bitolterol mesylate
- procainamide, Pronestyl; Procan-SR; Procanbid (These brands no longer are available in the U.S.)
- oxaprozin (Daypro)
- lopinavir and ritonavir (Kaletra): Potential COVID-19 Drug
- Retrovir (zidovudine, ZDV, formerly called AZT)
- Didronel (etidronate)
- beclomethasone dipropionate nasal inhaler-spray
- lamivudine (3tc) (Epivir; Epivir HBV)
- bepridil (Vascor)
- estropipate, Ogen
- fenoprofen (Nalfon)
- Combivir (lamivudine and zidovudine)
Prevention & Wellness
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- Research Supporting Homeopathy Is Often Biased, of Poor Quality: Review
- With New Boost From Medicare, 'Telemedicine' Steps Up to Fight Coronavirus
- Poll Finds Many Americans Heeding Advice on Coronavirus
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Disposal Fact Sheets.
FDA. How to Dispose of Unused Medicines.