Understand your prescription
Medicines save and improve millions of lives. Ask why you were prescribed them. Learn how to use them wisely
- benefit from antibiotics
- optimise pain relief
- take the right medicine confidently
With Dr Morton’s - the medical helpline© you can email or phone a real doctor at any time for more information, reassurance or advice
Understanding your medicines
Medicines have been developed to treat a myriad of illnesses and in consequence a bewildering array of medicines are prescribed by doctors. If you are not sure why you are taking a particular medicine, it is perfectly reasonable that you should ask. A doctor can explain for example what beta blockers like atenolol are for, how they work and why they are better than other medicines, or why medicines like methotrexate are being used to treat your rheumatoid arthritis (RA) when your friend is taking the same medicine for cancer.
Some illnesses will simply get better on their own given time and rest. Understanding medicines greatly helps people to take them to best effect. Be it a cream for a rash, eye drops for sore eyes, or laxatives for constipation, all medicines should be taken cautiously and in the right combinations. We can reassure you about medicines your doctor has prescribed to treat a particular condition, or indeed explain why your doctor has decided that no medicines are required.
Sometimes medicines have unexpected effects. These may be due to an allergy or an unpredicted interaction with something else you are taking. The medicine may have side-effects that are worse for some people than others.
Allergic reactions may show themselves as a bright red itchy rash all over the body, or swelling of the face and lips. Rarely this can be serious enough to make breathing difficult and you should call an ambulance immediately.
Feeling sick or getting thrush after using an antibiotic is not an allergic reaction, just an unwanted consequence of the treatment.
The leaflets that come with medicines can be bewildering and at times frightening. It is often easier to ask a quick question from an experienced doctor than to wade through the small print.
When you should contact a doctor
- if you are worried about taking a prescribed medicine
- concerned that you may have taken your medicines incorrectly
- if you feel that your medicine is not working
- are anxious about possible side effects
- you may also contact one of our doctors and ask if you are unsure why you have been prescribed particular medicines like atenolol or methotrexate