Drugs and Medicine

Being informed about the medication you take is essential to maintaining your health. Here you will find information on how you can best manage your medications.

Tips to remember
Medication costs
Other useful articles or links


It is important that you remember and understand what your doctor tells you about any condition you may have and any medicine prescribed. It is also a good idea to write down any questions you have before you visit your doctor or pharmacist so you don’t forget anything. If you don’t like asking questions you may want to take a friend or family member with you. During your visit, you can request that your doctor write down any information about your diagnosis or your medication.  It is important that you tell the doctor or pharmacist about all the medicines you are taking as some medicines affect the other. Your doctor will also need to know about any allergies or reactions to medicines you have experienced in the past.


There are two types of medication, those that require a prescription that you take to your chemist, and those that be bought over the counter.  Here are some questions you (or your carer) may want to ask your doctor or chemist about your medications:

  • What is the name of the medication and what is it for?
  • Are there any possible side effects? 
  • What should I do if there are any side effects?
  • How long will I need to take this medication for?
  • Will this medication affect any of my other medical problems?
  • What should I do if I forget to take my medication?
  • Will this medicine interfere with any others that I take?
  • Is there anything I should avoid while taking this medication – such as alcohol, cigarettes, driving?
  • Check that you are taking the lowest possible effective dose of medication.

If you are taking more than one type of medication, it can become confusing knowing when to take each one.  Your local pharmacist will be able to help you with this by dividing up the week’s medication so it is easier to monitor the dosage. You could also buy a daily tablet box to remind you what to take and when.


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Tips to remember
Take your medicine at the same time every day

  • If you are taking four or more kinds of medicines, ask your doctor to check them regularly
  • Let your doctor know immediately if your medication is causing you any problems, such as nausea, headaches or dizziness
  • Ask your chemist before taking alcohol while on medication
  • Always take all of the tablets prescribed by your doctor
  • Check with your doctor or chemist before taking non-prescription or alternative medications
  • It is important to check the expiry date of any medicines that you are taking, out of date or unused medicines should be returned to your pharmacist who will dispose of them safely
  • Store your medicine in a cool, dry place, out of sunlight and away from direct heat, some medicines have to be kept in the fridge, check the label or leaflet if you are unsure
  • If you accidentally take too much medicine, check the leaflet that came with the medicine or contact your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
  • If you experience any unexpected side effects from your medication you should contact your doctor, examples of signs to watch out for include:

-         Skin rashes or itchiness
-         Difficulty breathing
-         Unusual headaches or dizziness
-         Unexplained or easy bruising
-         Mood changes
-         A loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting
-         Slurred speech, memory loss or impaired judgement
-         Changes in sleeping patterns such as unusual drowsiness or recurring unpleasant dreams.


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Carers play an important role in helping people take their medicines properly. If you are a carer it is important that you accompany the person in your care when they attend the doctor or pharmacist. Seek information on how best medicines should be taken.


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Medication costs
If you are not a Medical Card holder, you can apply for a Drugs Payment Scheme Card which allows you to spend no more than a maximum of €120 per month on medications.You can pick up a registration form for the drugs payment scheme from your local chemist. Once you complete this form send it to your Local Health Office. After a period of up to four weeks, you will receive a plastic swipe card that should be presented to your chemist each time you need a prescription. It is advised that you attend the same chemist in any one month so as to avoid paying more than the €120 per month maximum limit.

If you do use two or more chemists in one month, you can claim back any amount paid over the €120 threshold from your Local Health Office by sending your receipts to the Drugs Payments Scheme Division of your Local Health Office.

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Other useful articles or links

click here for Citizen’s Information - Prescribed Drugs and Medicines

click here for HSE Local Health Offices

click here for HSE Health Centres


HSE National Information Line
Monday to Saturday, 8am-8pm
Call Save: 1850 24 1850
Email: info@hse.ie


Senior helpline
LoCall: 1850 440 444
Seven days a week, 10am-1pm and 7-10pm

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