Published on October 24, 2018

Q&A: Understanding medications

Medicine is meant to help you feel better, not worse.

Aditi ChincholiBut a lot can go wrong if you don’t understand your medicine—and how to take it safely. Aditi Chincholi, MD, a primary care physician at Mercy Health Associates at Chestnut Street, answers key questions about medicines and the knowledge you need to help protect your health.

What should I know when my doctor prescribes a medicine?

Make sure you understand the answers to these questions:

  • What is the name of the medicine, and what is it for? 
  • How much do I take, and when should I take it? 
  • What are possible side effects, and what should I do if I experience one? 
  • Is there anything I shouldn’t eat or drink when I take this medicine? 
  • Will it cause problems if I take this drug with other medicines? 
  • What should I do if I forget to take a dose?

What should I keep in mind when taking OTC medicines?

pill bottlesAlways read the printed directions and warnings—and follow them. Know what you’re taking too.

Review the ingredients in OTC medications, and choose products that have fewer items listed. And check the expiration date. A medicine’s effectiveness wears off over time. If you are taking OTC medications and have concerns about interactions, talk to your doctor and your pharmacist.