Understand your medicines

Make sure you understand how to read the medicine label

It can be hard to know what you are taking, how many times you have to take it, and why. Reading the medicine label on the bottle is important.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Pay attention to the part of the label that explains what your medicine looks like. For example, your label might say “This is a blue pill imprinted with ABC on the front.” Make sure that the medicine in the bottle is the same as explained on the label. If it isn’t, contact your pharmacist right away.
  • Know how your medicine can make you feel and if it will limit your physical activity. Some medicines can make you sleepy or even keep you awake. Some can make you dizzy or have other side effects. These notices will be printed on your label. It’s also a good idea to ask your pharmacist.
  • Never take more medicine than directed.
  • Some medicines are meant to be taken at a certain time of day. Make sure you follow the instructions on the label. 
  • Some medicines don’t work well with others and can even stop your other medicines from working. Make sure you tell your doctor and pharmacist all the medicines you take to avoid problems.
  • If you don’t feel like your medicine is helping you feel better, talk to your doctor.
  • It can take 2 business days for a medicine to be refilled. This does not include the time it takes to get your doctor to approve a refill. Don’t wait until the last minute to request a refill from your doctor. You can also ask your pharmacist about automatic refills.
  • Talk to your pharmacist about your medications. They are the experts and are there to help. Find out more about why you need to know your pharmacist.

Sample label

back of label

How your medicine can make you feel. For example, "This drug may make you feel drowsy."

Any reason that may limit your physical activity will be listed here. For example, "Do not drive a car or use heavy equipment until you know how this drug affects you."

Original date of prescription

Date filled

Throw away after (expiration date)

This is a [color and shape] pill imprinted with [abc] on the front.

front of label

Pharmacy Name 123 Pharmacy Road, Your City, Your State 00000

Your Name 321 Your Street, Your City, Your State 00000

How much to take and how many times to
take it

Medicine name and amount

Type of medicine

Quantity (how many)

How many refills and other instructions