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Medications: The drugs you take and why you take them

The way doctors and patients speak with each other, including about medications, is among the most important parts of good health care.
Dr. Peter Eppinga

To provide the best care, your doctor must understand you as a person and know what your life is like. How you and your doctor talk to each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care.

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Over the years, the doctor-patient relationship has changed. The doctor used to take the lead and the patient followed. Now, in 2017, it is more of a partnership and the patient is in charge.

In my clinical experience I have noticed many common themes among my patients that can lead to inadequate health care. Medications are one of the most common. I have found that many patients do not know the drugs they take and why they take them, especially in the elderly population. I try to make an effort when doing my yearly physical exams to talk about the medications I have prescribed for them and answer any questions they may have.

The doctor’s job in this doctor-patient partnership is:

1. I go over why they are on the medication, and what we are trying to achieve.

2. We discuss the side effects.

3. I cover some common interactions the medication may have, and make sure it does not cause harm to the patient.

The patient’s job is:

1. I ask all of my patients to list all their medications.

Your doctor needs to know ALL the medications you take. Medications include prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs (such as Tylenol, Advil, Tums), vitamins, herbal remedies or supplements, laxatives, eye drops.

Sometimes I ask my patients to bring all their medications in a bag to the visit. Most of the time I suggest making a list and bringing it to the yearly physical. I always suggest listing their medications on their phone so they have the list with them at all times, especially if they have to go to the emergency room.

2. I also ask the patient to note dosages, frequency, and side effects.

It is very important to write down how much you take and how often. Make sure to tell the doctor if a dose has changed or if you are taking a new medicine since your last visit.

The doctor needs to know everything you take because some medicines cause problems when taken together. Also, sometimes a medicine you take for one health problem, like a headache, can cause another health problem to get worse.

3. Finally, I ask my patients to write down any medication allergies they have and any bad side effects they have had with the medicines they take. I also like to know which medications work best for them!

As you can see, this doctor-patient relationship requires more work for the patient than the doctor when it comes to medications. Always feel free to ask your doctor questions about your medications, but the foremost person for this is still the pharmacist who should be working closely with your doctor.

Cheers to 2017 and having a passion for your health and body! You only have one body to live in so look after it with excellence and know every medication you’re putting into your body and why.

Love my life and yours,

Dr. Eppinga M.D., aka Dr. Pringles but only if you are under the age of 5! (In clinic I had the cutest four-year-old girl scream and call me Dr. Pringles and thought she was getting some chips after the visit, LOL).

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