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Have a question about your health?

Ask the Pharmacist

“Do I need to finish my medication if I already feel better?”

“How soon can I start exercising after having surgery?”

“Do I really need to take that pill on an empty stomach?”

Your Express Scripts Canada pharmacist is a healthcare professional with a wealth of knowledge on a wide range of health topics. If you have a question about your health or medication, chances are, your Express Scripts Canada pharmacist knows the answer.

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Note: We welcome general questions or topics which may be of interest to you, but any questions specific to your health or medications will not be answered and should be directed to your pharmacist or other healthcare professional.

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Click here to read the answer to our featured questionRead video transcript


I just watched an ad for heart medication. With all those side effects, is it worth taking the medication?

Answer from Express Scripts Canada Pharmacist, Farah Belayadi:

Advertisements for medication can be intimidating, especially if they are for a medication you are currently using. The seemingly endless roll call of side effects can lead to anxiety and confusion in any patient.

Though you may be taking your medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor, it can be an unsettling experience when a new symptom is discovered.

Understandably, the first thought is that it must be a side effect. And that might not be the case at all. Sometimes it is the illness itself that is to blame. Or the culprit could be:

  • an incorrect dosage
  • an unforeseen allergic reaction, or
  • a straightforward misdiagnosis.

That said, side effects do happen, and predicting exactly how each patient will react is incredibly difficult. Many patients will experience no side effects, while others may experience several of them at once.

So… how can you be sure it is a side effect you are experiencing? And more importantly, how concerned should you be about it?

  • The first thing to know is that you should never stop taking your medication before talking to your pharmacist or physician.
    • If you think you are experiencing side effects, be sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist right away. It may be as simple as changing something in your diet, or avoiding that glass of wine with dinner. Your health care professional can help identify these common instigators.
  • The other thing to be aware of is that certain side effects only occur once the dosage has been increased and will subside or disappear completely after taking the medication on a regular basis.
    • Most of the common side effects, such as an upset stomach, drowsiness, headaches, and dry mouth, can be lessened by fine-tuning the dosage, and may be nothing to be overly concerned about.
  • Still, it is true that some side effects can be a sign of a serious reaction to your medication. The important thing is to be proactive about your own health. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about things to watch for.
    • Have an open and honest conversation about all possible factors. Talk about any personal problems you may be experiencing, as well as any over-the-counter medication, supplements or recreational drugs, you might be taking. If the side effects still prove to be too much of a problem, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medication to treat your condition.

Together, your doctor and your pharmacist can help you make a rational, informed decision that is right for you, giving you the peace of mind necessary for effective healing.

Until next time, I’m Farah Belayadi, and this has been Ask the Pharmacist.

I wish you good health.

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Disclaimer: The information provided is not a substitute for medical or professional advice, judgment, diagnosis or treatment or a recommendation or endorsement for any health care provider, product, procedure, service or other information that may be mentioned. Reliance on any information is solely at the user’s own risk. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. In no event will Express Scripts Canada be liable for any loss or damages of any kind resulting from user’s access to or use of the information on this web site or use of any information contained in linked web sites.
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