The best time to take your medication

Health

The instructions on the bottle may say “take once a day,” but rarely do they tell you when exactly during the 24-hour period you should take them. Why consider the clock? Your body chemistry naturally fluctuates throughout the day, which affects how it absorbs and processes drugs. Also, scheduling your dose for certain times can ease your symptoms when they are most severe and help ensure that you don’t forget your medication to begin with.

Here is a list of common medications and the optimal time to take them:

Note: Always check with your doctor before making any changes to your medication plan. 

  • Pain Relief. Do you use NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen to help manage chronic aches and pains? If you take an NSAID for osteoarthritis, it’s a good idea to take it four to six hours before your pain is most severe. That way, the drug is most active when you’re really hurting. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder, often peak in the morning so it’s best to take NSAIDs after dinner to prevent pain from developing overnight.
  • High Cholesterol. If you use a cholesterol-lowering statin to reduce high LDL levels and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke, you should talk to your doctor about the timing of your medication. Your body produces the majority of your cholesterol while you sleep, so taking a statin before bed may help reduce the total amount of cholesterol you ultimately make. 
  • Heartburn. Don’t confuse fast-acting antacids with over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). The majority of people who buy these OTC medications don’t take them correctly. PPIs, like Nexium and Prevacid, help reduce stomach acid, but it takes seven days of continuous use for the drugs to reach their potential. Antacids, like Tums, on the other hand, should be taken an hour after eating for immediate relief.
  • Allergies. Hay fever symptoms (itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing) and pollen count are the highest in the morning. Take your 24-hour antihistamine before bed so that you don’t wake up to watery eyes, congestion, and sneezing the next morning.
  • High Blood Pressure. Taking angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) before bed may help normalize your daily blood pressure rhythm and decrease your risk of non-dipping—when your blood pressure fails to naturally lower levels during sleep. 

This site provides only general information about medication. It does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, or interactions of the medicines mentioned. The information not intended as medical advice for individual problems or for making an evaluation as to the risks and benefits of taking a particular medication.

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