We trust our doctor to look after our health and to prescribe medication when we need it, right? And they do. Most doctors – the good ones, will talk us through the process, explain why they are prescribing particular medications and what to expect from them. They should also let us know about any side-effects or concerns there may be in taking said medication.
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But if they don’t – and sometimes they don’t – it is up to us to take the initiative and ask. It is our health and our body, and we are ultimately responsible for what happens. We mustn’t be afraid to ask questions or share concerns with our GP about our treatment – in fact, most doctors respect those who are proactive about their health care.
The same goes for over-the-counter medications and treatments. Our pharmacist may recommend a product to us based on information we have given them. They don’t know our medical history or anything else about us for that matter and will only be able to make recommendations based on what we tell them and their knowledge of the product itself.
It is our responsibility to ensure that a product is the right one (and a safe one) for us to use. Our pharmacist or the sales assistant cannot be held responsible for something they don’t know if we neglect to share vital information with them that may impact on what they recommend. They also cannot be expected to know everything about every product.
Here is an example of a recent experience I had. I had been bitten by ants and had itchy red welts that would not go away. None of my usual remedies were working so, during my lunch break from work, I went to a pharmacist and asked her to recommend something. She picked up and read the packaging of several antihistamines and chose one that she thought would be suitable. She assured me that it was non-drowsy as there were no warnings to the contrary on the package.
I wanted to be certain because I do a lot of driving, so when I returned to work I looked up the product online. I found that this particular medication can cause dizziness and, in rare cases, drowsiness. I decided it was best to wait until the evening to take it.
I did not hold the pharmacist responsible because there was no information on the packaging to indicate this. She was only going by what she had read. I have since contacted the company to point this out to them and suggest (politely) that they consider adding this warning to their package.
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If you are concerned or if you are taking a new medication for the first time, look it up. If you can’t look it up, ask your pharmacist to look it up for you, or phone the company that makes the product.
What it comes down to is that we are the ones ultimately responsible for what happens to us and how we manage it – including our health care. Be proactive.