Medicine dos and don'ts

What to do

  • Learn the generic and brand names of your medicines.For example, acetaminophen is the generic name and Tylenol® is the brand name.
  • Understand why you are taking your medicines.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are foods or other medicines you should not have while taking this medicine. Some foods and medicines may affect your medicine.
  • Take your medicine at about the same time each day.
  • Have all of your medicines filled at one pharmacy.
  • Talk with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you have any questions about your medicine.
  • Use a pill box or guide to manage your medicines.
  • Ask your health care provider or pharmacist what to do if you miss a dose.
  • Keep all medicines (prescription, over-the-counter,herbals and vitamins) out of reach of children and pets.
  • Keep all medicines in their original bottles or in a pill box.
  • Keep all medicines away from heat, light and humidity. Do not keep medicines in the bathroom or near the kitchen sink.
  • Plan ahead for vacations. Check how much medicine you have and call your pharmacy to refill your prescription,if needed. Do not be caught without enough of your medicines when you are away from home.
  • Allow extra time for refills if you use a mail order pharmacy.
  • If you are flying, check with your airline for details about bringing medicines on board.
  • If you are seeing more than one health care provider,be sure to tell each one which medicines you are taking.

What not to do

  • Do not let your medicines run out. Make sure you call your pharmacy at least one week before you need a refill.
  • Do not take medicines prescribed for someone else.
  • Do not take any more or less than the prescribed dose of any medicine.
  • Do not keep outdated medicine.
  • Do not stop taking your medicines unless you have talked with your health care provider.

Bring your medicines to your doctor appointments

Bring all of your medicines or a list of them to your doctor appointments. Put your medicine bottles and boxes into a bag and bring it with you to your appointments or use the My Medicine List.

Include all:

  • prescription medicines
  • over-the-counter medicines
  • herbals
  • natural products

Medicines can work against each other so your health care provider needs to know what you are taking.

How to read your prescription label

The label on your prescription medicine has a lot of information on it. Learn how to read it.

Source: Allina Health Patient EducationUnderstanding Stroke, fifth edition, neuro-ahc-90662
Reviewed By: Allina Health Patient Education experts
First Published: 02/01/2006
Last Reviewed: 05/01/2018

Keep a current list of your medicines in your wallet or purse.