Skip to Main Content
1440_405-1116_628-768_432

How to Discuss a Medication Change With Your Doctor


By Carolyn Heneghan December 29, 2017 Posted in: Personal Health , Article

Nailing down the best medication and dosage for treating an illness or disorder is often based largely on trial and error. As such, you and your doctor may have many reasons for considering a medication change, depending on your condition and how you're responding to treatment. Being prepared with the right questions and observations can make any medication changes more streamlined and potentially more effective. Regardless of why you're making a switch, it's critical to continuously self-monitor and inform your doctor about any adverse changes you notice.

Why You Might Make a Medication Change

If you or your doctor are considering making changes to your medication regimen, you could be facing any one or more of these scenarios:

  • Medication that is no longer working or helping
  • Needing to increase or decrease your dosage
  • Switching between generic and name brands (and vice versa)
  • Changing to a different type or combination of active ingredients
  • Adding another medication to your regimen
  • Switching to a newer version of a medication
  • Weaning off a medication with side effects

Regardless of why you might be switching medications, this is a conversation you should absolutely have with your doctor as soon as possible if you haven't discussed it already.

Approaching Your Doctor About Changing Medications

There are a few factors to consider when deciding whether to switch your medications.

  • Tolerability of side effects
  • Length of time you've been taking the medication
  • Degree of improvement for whatever condition or symptoms you're treating

Medication changes can be significant, especially for certain disorders and chemical compounds. Treatment for mental disorders, for example, can involve a wide range of psychotropic drugs available in various dosages and combinations.

Because uncertainty surrounds how some drugs impact your ability to perform day-to-day functions, do your best to plan ahead for these medication changes and conversations with your doctor. Timing these changes will help you avoid having too many other significant commitments that could derail or be derailed by the switch.

You may also need to slowly decrease or increase your dosage of a medication over time during the course of the switch. Stopping certain medications abruptly, particularly for mental health conditions, can be dangerous. It's critical to consult your doctor before changing your medication regimen.

Recording Relevant Health Information

Both you and your doctor can benefit significantly from any recordkeeping you perform when it comes to how you feel physically and mentally. Regularly recording certain vital signs or other biometrics pertaining to your condition can be useful. You can also jot down how you feel your body is responding to current or new medication. Both scientific data and personal history and self-awareness are crucial to determining whether you have landed on the most effective treatment regimen.

To record this information in one accessible place, consider keeping a journal. You can also check out different health apps that allow you to record the information that would be most relevant and helpful for tracking your condition and responses to medications. You can then share this information with your doctor at your next visit, or you may be able to use a secured patient portal to share these observations with your doctor electronically.

Doctors and their patients don't always find the right medication regimen on the first try, so don't give up hope if your condition hasn't improved since your last doctor's visit. Consider whether making a medication change could improve your symptoms, and consult your doctor to determine the most effective course of action for you.

Breastfeeding for Working Moms: 5 Tips to Guide You

SEP 12, 2022

It's often said that breastfeeding is a full-time job. And in those first few weeks of motherhood, when it feels like you're feeding constantly, it certainly can be. But what happens a few months later when you have to go back to work?

Read More Additional information about Dignity Health | How to Make Breastfeeding for Working Moms Easy

The Importance of Prenatal Vitamins

SEP 12, 2022

It's important to remember that vitamins and supplements cannot take the place of a healthy diet. For example, pregnant women should eat multiple servings of fresh green vegetables and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Higher doses of certain vitami...

Read More Additional information about Dignity Health | *

How to Know When a Child Injury Requires Medical Attention

SEP 11, 2022

Scrapes, bumps, and bruises from outdoor play are a child's rite of passage, but sometimes a fall or a tumble results in a more serious injury. For many parents, the problem is to know when a twisted ankle is just a minor sprain or something worse — ...

Read More Additional information about Dignity Health | How to Know When a Child Injury Requires Medical Attention