Most people think of their pharmacist simply as the person who fills their prescription – but pharmacists are trained medical professionals who have earned their Pharm.D.
As part of their education, pharmacists study medications, including how they work within the body, how they interact, and even how they treat diseases on a molecular level. What this means is that your local pharmacist is a fantastic resource.
Your pharmacist can help answer questions about any medications you are taking, provide safety information, and help monitor your side effects, among many other things. So, let’s take a closer look at how your pharmacist can be a resource for managing your health.
1. Your Pharmacist Can Help You Safely Use Medications
Pharmacists are an important part of your healthcare team – especially if you have a medical condition that requires you to take prescription medications.
Your pharmacist is able to provide you with clear instructions on how to take your medications, including:
If your medications should be taken with a meal or on an empty stomach
How frequently and at what times of the day you should take a medication
When and how you should discontinue taking a medication
How to properly store your medications
Finding Drug Interactions
Because pharmacists stay current on the latest pharmacology research, they can help you identify potential interactions between medications. This is important for patients who take multiple medications and for patients who see multiple doctors.
For example, a patient may be prescribed drugs by both their cardiologist and their primary physician. Both doctors may not always have complete information on what medications the other has prescribed. However, your pharmacist will be able to tell you:
If these medications have potential interactions that you should be aware of
If any over-the-counter medications or supplements that you’re taking can also interact with your prescriptions
How to tell if you’re experiencing a drug interaction or simply normal side effects
2. Your Pharmacist Can Help Identify Or Explain Potential Side Effects
While your pharmacist is a great resource for identifying potential drug interactions, they’re also able to tell you about medication side effects.
Pharmacists not only spend years studying how medications work, but they also stay updated on current drug information. This means they have a wealth of knowledge on what you can expect when you start taking a new medication. Your pharmacist can tell you:
What side effects you might experience
Which side effects are normal
How long you can expect a side effect to last
When a side effect is serious and requires further attention
Because medications often work in complex ways, and our understanding of how they work can change as we learn more about them, pharmacists are a go-to resource for the most recent and thorough drug information. That means your pharmacist can literally be a life saver.
Talk With Your Pharmacist About New Prescriptions
When you start taking a new prescription drug, always ask your pharmacist about potential side effects. They’ll be able to keep you informed on what you can expect, and they’re able to provide you with additional details about potentially life-threatening side effects.
Your pharmacist might even know of a newly available alternative drug with fewer side effects than the one you’re currently taking. You can then ask your doctor if it’s an option to help treat your condition.
3. Your Pharmacist Can Help You Manage Your Medications
If you have multiple prescriptions, then you know how difficult it can be to always keep track of all of your medications. While you can’t take your pharmacist home with you, they are an excellent resource for helping you to manage your prescriptions.
Your pharmacist can provide tips on how to carefully monitor your medications, and can share what resources are available to you. They may even recommend options like:
-Medication management apps
Just as importantly, your pharmacist is able to tell you what to do if you miss a dose of your medication. Depending on the type of medication, size of the dose, and how long it’s been since you last took it, your pharmacist will help you decide on the best course of action.