When starting a new medication, the more you know, the better, says Dr. Theron Bliss, a primary care physician at St. John Health System.

“The better informed a patient is about their disease and their treatment, the better they usually do in terms of their care,” he says.

He advises patients to start with the basics by educating themselves about their disease or condition, medications prescribed and the doctor’s goals for treatment.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you are comfortable [that] you understand,” says Bliss. “It’s important to understand why you are taking a prescribed medication and what the medication will do for you.”

Ask about the side effects and possible drug interactions.

“Be sure your doctor knows about any other medications you are currently taking and about any other medical conditions you have, especially if you are seeing a specialist or a new doctor,” says Bliss. “They may not have access to all your medical records.”

Make sure instructions are clear regarding how and when to take a prescription medication.

“If you need to take it on an empty stomach, [taking it] first thing in the morning would probably work best,” says Bliss. “For people with several daily medications, a pill organizer can help keep track of what to take when.

“Make the medication part of your routine,” he continues. “You’ll be more likely to remember it each day.”

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