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Ask the Health Coach: How a pharmacist can help you better manage your health

  • Category: Pharmacy, Wellness
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Rachel Wilde, PBT, CPT, MA
Ask the Health Coach: How a pharmacist can help you better manage your health

I recently had a conversation with a client that reminded me how important a pharmacist can be in managing your health.

Bob, my client, recently had a change in his insurance and the medication they had been taking for many years suddenly became VERY expensive. The pharmacist caught the change and was able to fill the medication for the client prior to the insurance changes taking effect. The quick thinking of the pharmacist gave Bob time to work with their physician to find a new medication. The pharmacist literally saved the day—and Bob’s pocketbook!

If you have a health condition that requires you to fill a prescription, your pharmacist is one of the most important members of your health team. But did you know that pharmacists often offer a wide range of services such as medication management, medication compliance, immunization administration and more. In addition to keeping us safe while using medications, they can work alongside your doctor to help you find the best and most affordable medication to treat your health condition. They are able to answer questions for you about how to best take your medications, the side effects to watch for and also the interactions your medication can have with over the counter supplements you may take, along with the foods you may eat. Don’t forget that your pharmacist is a tremendous (FREE) resource for you to better your health.

Next time you fill a prescription, here are a few questions you should ask your pharmacist:

  1. Is there a generic version I can take? Generic medications generally have the same chemical composition as the name brand product and work just as effectively. Occasionally, there are subtle differences in the medication, such as the capsule that is used which can cause minute differences in how the medication works. Generally, a generic medication will cost lessand often have the same effect. Ask your pharmacist and save a few (or more) bucks!
  2. What side effects should I be aware of? Your prescriptions should come with printed information about the medication you are taking. Sometimes, these printed directions and warnings can be difficult to decipher. Ask your pharmacist about the most common side effects or the big ones that you specifically should watch for.
  3. Are there any special instructions? Medications often should be taken at specific intervals—so does that mean breakfast and dinner, or every 12 hours? Be sure to ask what to do if you miss a dose. If you already take other medications, you may need to adjust how you are taking them, alongside your new medication. Some medications should be taken on an empty stomach while others are better consumed with foods. There may even be foods you should avoid while taking your medicine. Your pharmacist is the best resource to ask–they can help you to effectively take your medications.
  4. Can I take my medications with my vitamins or supplements? If you use supplements, you should have a good talk with your pharmacist. Many over-the-counter (OTC) products can have an interaction with medication, or can either increase or decrease the effectiveness of your prescriptions. For example, many weight loss products should not be taken with asthma medications. Foods can also interact with medications—bananas and lisinopril (a common blood pressure medication) should not be taken together.
  5. How should I store my medications? Medicines often need some tender loving care-they may need to be stored in the dark, refrigerator or at room temperature. Not storing them properly can change the effectiveness of them, their taste and more. Be sure to ask your pharmacist about the best way to care for your medications. They can also direct you how to dispose of them properly.

man in a pharmacyA pharmacist should be your first stop when taking a new medication or reviewing what you already take. They can be a wonderful resource if you have questions about prescriptions as well as OTC supplements and medicines. The next time you visit with your pharmacist, make sure that you bring your list of questions, and let them know if you have any allergies, take other medications or have any dietary restrictions. The best way for your pharmacist to assist you is to keep them well informed!

Looking for more information? Check out these articles:

  • Everyday Health: 6 Questions You Should Ask Your Pharmacist; Filling prescriptions is just one of the services the drugstore offers by Dr. Sanjay Gupta
  • Consumer Reports: Don't mix your meds with these foods; Some fruits, vegetables, and even some drinks can cause dangerous interactions

Have Questions?

Campbell County Health Wellness works to reduce health risks and promote overall wellness among employee groups and individuals across the northeastern Wyoming region. To learn more about Wellness, please visit www.cchwyo.org/Wellness or call 307.688.8051.

This blog was written by Rachel Wilde, CPT, MA, CCH Wellness Services Technician and Phlebotomist