‘Ask an Expert’ at Forks Community Hospital

I saw an advertisement for a pharmaceutical on the television. Why did my doctor choose to prescribe something else?

When going shopping, many people make a list. Often times, patients treat a trip to the doctor as they do a shopping outing, with a list of drugs they would like to try. Maybe a prescription ad on TV or in a magazine looked like something for you? Perhaps your friend or neighbor has a pharmaceutical they swear by? Maybe you just want to feel better and think a prescription might help?

Sometimes, a drug is exactly what you need. Drugs can identify a disease, treat the symptoms and basic condition, or even cure it.

However, the drug you want may not be the right one.

Let’s look at your trip to the clinic as an opportunity to get the best help from your doctor, whether it is better drug or a different type of treatment.

What is a better drug? It is the one that does what it is supposed to do (the benefit) with the least side effects (the risks). Picking the best drug is a detailed process your doctor carefully considers. If you want an antibiotic and your infection is caused by a virus, an antibiotic will not work. Some drugs do not go with other ailments you have or other drugs you are already taking. Several are not to be used if you are younger than the age of 18 years. A few may be beneficial but the side effects are too much of a risk. You may already have been caring for your condition with home remedies or medication from the store. It helps the doctor to know what you have tried so far.

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that you buy without a prescription can be very good for taking care of mild symptoms or for even treating a problem for a short time. They are labeled with directions for how to take them and with warnings about interactions with your conditions or other drugs you take so you know if you need to avoid them. Doctors actually recommend some OTC drugs. Also, certain herbal products can help. Often it takes longer for herbals to take full effect and they do not have the same labeling as OTC products so it is less clear if you should take them at all or what amount to take.

What is a different type of treatment? In many cases, physical therapy offers benefits. Here are some other ideas: For an injury, apply ice and elevate the area, use distraction like music or television; for a respiratory illness, use a humidifier or a dehumidifier as the case may be; for an infection, take a probiotic to prevent upset stomach that can occur when taking antibiotics.

Be involved in your healthcare. Be honest about what you have done and want to achieve. Be willing to follow your doctor’s instructions, even if you do not get the drug on your list.

Janet Schade, MS, RPh, Director of Pharmacy

Disclaimer: This column is not intended as a diagnosis or recommended treatment of a specific condition. Answers are not a replacement for an individual medical evaluation. Individual health concerns should be evaluated by a licensed clinician.

Do you have a question you would like answered by an expert from Forks Community Hospital? Please submit your questions to [email protected] and we will do our best to answer them here in the Forks Forum.