Questions to ask your doctor

Be medicinewise: ask questions

You’ll get more out of a visit to your doctor, pharmacist or other health professional if you ask questions about your medicines or medical tests.

Use this tool to build your own list of questions. You can print it out to take with you.

Create your question list:

  1. Click a topic to see a list of suggested questions
  2. Select questions from the list
  3. Add your own questions
  4. Print your personalised list of questions
  5. Ask your health professional to help you find the answers.

Many of the answers can also be found in the consumer medicine information (CMI) leaflet about your medicine. CMIs are available on our website or from your doctor or pharmacist.

Questions to ask about all medicines

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you be medicinewise.

  • Brand name and active ingredient

    • What is the medicine's brand name?
    • What is the active ingredient in this medicine?
    • Is it OK to have a different brand if the pharmacist offers me one?
  • How to take the medicine

    • When should I take this medicine?
    • Are there any special instructions relating to food or drink?
    • Do I need to avoid taking other medicines with this medicine? (Including vitamins, herbal or complementary medicines)
    • What should I do if I miss a dose?
    • How long do I need to take it for?
  • Expected benefits of taking the medicine

    • How will this medicine help my condition?
    • How will I know the medicine is working
  • Possible side effects of the medicine

    • What common side effects should I be aware of?
    • Are there any serious side effects, and how likely are they?
    • What can I do to reduce the risk of side effects?
    • What should I do if I experience a side effect?
  • Other treatment options

    • What else can I do, such as making diet and other lifestyle changes, to help my condition?
    • What are my other treatment options?
    • Are there other medicines that don't have the side effects I am concerned about?
    • What would happen if I didn't take this medicine? Would my health get worse?

Questions about your specific condition

If you have a specific condition here are some more detailed questions to ask your health professional.

  • Respiratory tract infection or cough and cold

    • If you are wondering whether you need an antibiotic:
    • Would an antibiotic help me get better more quickly?
    • What can I do to manage my symptoms?
    • How soon should I start to feel better?
    • Do I need to come back to see you?
    • If you are prescribed an antibiotic:
    • Why do I need to take an antibiotic?
    • How long do I need to take this medicine for?
    • Do I need to keep this medicine in the fridge?
    • Do I need to avoid alcohol whilst taking this antibiotic?
    • [If taking the contraceptive pill] Do I need to take other precautions whilst I'm on antibiotics?
  • Going for a scan or X-ray

    • What information will a scan or X-ray provide?
    • Will the results make a difference to the treatment I need?
    • What are the risks of this type of scan?

Ask your own questions

Take this list next time you visit your doctor, pharmacist or other health professional. It will help you remember all your questions and provides space for you to write in some answers.

Many of the answers can be found in the consumer medicine information (CMI) leaflet that your doctor or pharmacist can print off for you.

General questions about medicines

Brand name and active ingredient

  • What is the medicine's brand name?
  • What is the active ingredient in this medicine?
  • Is it OK to have a different brand if the pharmacist offers me one?

How to take the medicine

  • When should I take this medicine?
  • Are there any special instructions relating to food or drink?
  • Do I need to avoid taking other medicines with this medicine? (Including vitamins, herbal or complementary medicines)
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • How long do I need to take it for?

Expected benefits of taking the medicine

  • How will this medicine help my condition?
  • How will I know the medicine is working?

Possible side effects of the medicine

  • What common side effects should I be aware of?
  • Are there any serious side effects, and how likely are they?
  • What can I do to reduce the risk of side effects?
  • What should I do if I experience a side effect?

Other treatment options

  • What else can I do, such as making diet and other lifestyle changes, to help my condition?
  • What are my other treatment options?
  • Are there other medicines that don't have the side effects I am concerned about?
  • What would happen if I didn't take this medicine? Would my health get worse?

Questions related to your condition

Respiratory tract infection or cough and cold

If you are wondering whether you need an antibiotic:
  • Would an antibiotic help me get better more quickly?
  • What can I do to manage my symptoms?
  • How soon should I start to feel better?
  • Do I need to come back to see you?
If you are prescribed an antibiotic:
  • Why do I need to take an antibiotic?
  • How long do I need to take this medicine for?
  • Do I need to keep this medicine in the fridge?
  • Do I need to avoid alcohol whilst taking this antibiotic?
  • [If taking the contraceptive pill] Do I need to take other precautions whilst I'm on antibiotics?

Going for a scan or X-ray

  • What information will a scan or X-ray provide?
  • Will the results make a difference to the treatment I need?
  • What are the risks of this type of scan?

Low back pain

  • How often and for how long can I take pain relievers?
  • Will I get better more quickly if I rest, or stay active?
  • What exercise is it OK for me to do?
  • Would a scan help show what's wrong?
  • Are hot and cold packs likely to help?

Your questions