Should I talk to my doctor about different dosing?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

When your doctor prescribes a drug for you, he or she will usually start with the lowest possible dose. The goal is to get the benefit of the drug while keeping the dose down. This helps cut back on side effects and interactions with any other drugs you need to take. Often, that original dose works well and we can stay with it for as long as you need the drug. Sometimes, though, the lowest dose isn’t enough and we need to raise it until the level is high enough to be beneficial. And sometimes we overshoot and prescribe a dose that turns out to be too high for you.

How can you tell if you need a different dose of a drug? Sometimes you can tell yourself. If a pain drug isn’t helping, for example, you might need a larger dose. And if the drug is making you feel drowsy and dopey all the time, a lower dose might be needed. For some drugs, such as those for high cholesterol, you can’t tell yourself if the drug is working. Your doctor will order blood tests to find out if the dose is effective. For any drug, unpleasant side effects or interactions with your other needed drugs tell us that the dose may need to be changed.

If you think a drug you’re taking isn’t helping or is causing problems, call your doctor. Don’t decide to stop taking the drug or take a lower, higher, or more frequent dose on your own. Your doctor has prescribed the drug for a reason and stopping it or changing the dose could be dangerous. When a drug doesn’t help or causes a lot of unpleasant side effects, your doctor may suggest changing the dose or switching to a different medication.


Always discuss any change in the dose of a drug with your doctor. If a drug isn’t helping or is causing serious or unpleasant side effects, the dose may need to be changed or the drug may need to be stopped. Because the drug may be needed to treat a serious health problem, don’t make any changes to the dose or stop taking the drug on your own. Call your doctor first. To make the drug work better or relieve side effects, your doctor may prescribe a smaller or larger dose or have you take the drug more or less often. Sometimes, your doctor may prescribe a different drug that might work better for you.

It is very important to have an open communication with your physician. He needs to know how you are doing with the dose of medication and make decisions on dosing based on your symptoms. He also needs to know any side effects you may be having.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.