Reasons for Taking Medications Before or After a Meal

Every medication comes with its own usage instructions so read the leaflet to find out if you should take them before, with, or after a meal. Continue reading to find out more about this subject.
Reasons for Taking Medications Before or After a Meal

Last update: 24 May, 2021

Many people think the instructions to take a given medication before, with, or after a meal has no influence on the effect of the drug. This is why it’s important for the physician and pharmacist to inform patients on the proper way to administer every medication they’re to use. It all depends on the particular drug’s chemical properties.

Furthermore, every drug has its own characteristics so people must be aware of how each one of them interacts with food.

Reasons why you must take some drugs after a meal

Any company that launches a new drug on the market has previously conducted studies and trials in order to evaluate a series of parameters such as efficacy, safety, and tolerance. However, they also study the different routes of administration and the bioavailability of the drug after administration.

This is how they can determine the ideal dose, the maximum tolerated dose, and the minimum effective dose. Some of the reasons for concluding that certain drugs must be taken with a full stomach are:

  • Improving drug absorption. A full stomach improves the absorption of a given drug through the gastric mucosa or intestine due to its chemical characteristics.
  • Reducing some side effects. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can produce gastric ulcers when they’re used for a prolonged period of time. This risk increases considerably when they’re taken on an empty stomach.
  • Improves adherence to treatment. Often, doctors instruct patients to take medication after each meal so it’s easier for them to remember taking it. It isn’t as important to follow these guidelines here as long as the person sticks to a schedule.
A spoonful of medication.
There are several reasons for taking medications with meals, either to improve adherence and to protect the stomach.

Reasons why you’re to take some medications on an empty stomach

On the same note, some medications must be taken on an empty stomach. The logic for this is that mixing the active ingredient with food will negatively impair the absorption of the chemical, and consequently, its efficacy.

When a physician indicates that a drug must be taken on an empty stomach, it means you must take it at least half an hour before your first meal of the day, or two hours after your last one. This ensures full absorption. An example of this situation is treatments for osteoporosis and hypothyroidism.

A person holding a pill and a glass of water.
Taking a medication on an empty stomach means taking it half an hour before the first meal of the day.

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Take medications before or after a meal according to your physician’s instructions

All medications come with a package insert with instructions for use and you must read it before starting treatment. This is because the misuse of drugs is dangerous, as they’re only effective under certain conditions.

The aforementioned medication package insert contains all the information related to the characteristics and route of administration of a drug. Thus, taking one designed to be administered on an empty stomach right before or after a meal will decrease its effectiveness.

Finally, we encourage you to consult the insert before taking a drug you don’t know much about. In addition, consult your doctor or pharmacist and have them clear up any doubts you might have. Satisfactory results depend on good administration to a large extent.

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