Advice on taking medicationHow well a medication works for a patient depends on a number of factors. medication plays an important role. For example, it can make a difference whether you swallow a tablet on an empty stomach, after a meal, with a glass of water or with juice. Patients taking multiple medications at the same time should also be aware of potential drug interactions.
Taking medication: the right time
Many body functions follow a daily rhythm. By adjusting the medication intake to this rhythm, the therapy works better and side effects can be avoided. It is therefore important to adhere exactly to the timing recommended by the doctor.
If you take medicine on an empty stomach, some medicines work faster. In the case of other drugs, however, food can protect the sensitive stomach lining from possible damage by the drug, so they are better tolerated when food is already in the stomach. Certain tablets also have a special coating to protect the drug from disintegrating in the stomach so that the active ingredient is not released until it reaches the intestines. For these drugs to work properly, taking them as directed is especially important. The package insert or your pharmacist will tell you how and when to take a medicine correctly, i.e., whether it should be taken before, during or after a meal. General rule for medication:
To take on an empty stomach means: 30 to 60 minutes before a meal or at the earliest 2 hours after a meal.
Before Meal Means: 30 minutes to one hour before the meal.
Meant with meal: During the meal or immediately afterwards.
After the meal: This instruction can mean different things. That is why most package inserts specify more precise times, for example, that the drug should be taken one hour after eating.
Regardless of meals: Take before, with, or after a meal, or at any time between meals.
If you have forgotten to take a dose, do not take a double dose under any circumstances. Read the package insert for directions, or if in doubt, call the doctor or pharmacist.
Swallowing, sucking or melting tablets?
Tablets, capsules and dragees to swallow are best taken while standing or sitting with a large glass of water. Tap water is sufficient. In the case of mineral water, you should prefer water that is less carbonated so that (acidic) belching does not occur after taking medication.
Some medications are not swallowed because the active ingredients enter the body more quickly through the oral mucosa. In this case, let them melt slowly under the tongue.
Take medications properly: Be careful with these foods
Patients should be mindful of their diet when taking medications. Because sometimes a drug does not work as intended when it enters the body together with certain foods. In some cases, side effects may also be exacerbated. It is best to ask your pharmacist what you should be aware of before taking any medication.
We have listed some foods that can be problematic when taking medications:
Grapefruits and grapefruit juice
Grapefruits and grapefruit juice can delay the breakdown of many drugs in the body, thereby increasing their effect. Therefore, refrain from eating while taking medication.
Milk and milk products
Frequently prescribed antibiotics from the tetracycline and quinolone groups form poorly soluble compounds with the calcium ion from milk and dairy products. These so-called complexes are less easily absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. This reduces the effectiveness of the antibiotic. Also affected by this interaction is the potent thyroid hormone L-thyroxine. Always keep a gap of at least two hours between taking these medicines and eating milk and dairy products. Alcohol inhibits the breakdown of drugs. Thus prolongs its duration of action. Therefore, avoid alcohol if you are taking medication.
coffee and tea
The tannins in coffee or tea can impair the absorption of drugs. Therefore, medications should generally be taken only with tap water.
Foods rich in oxalic acid such as rhubarb
Oxalic acid can impair the absorption of iron. Therefore, always keep a gap of two hours between taking iron supplements and eating foods rich in oxalic acid, such as rhubarb, spinach or black tea. A glass of orange juice, on the other hand, can promote iron absorption due to the vitamin C it contains.
Patients suffering from depression and taking MAO inhibitors should avoid protein-rich foods such as ripened cheese, sausage, yeast extract, canned fish or salted herring. These foods contain tyramine, which is no longer broken down by the body under the influence of MAO inhibitors. This increases the risk of side effects such as nausea, headaches or increased blood prere.
Medicines for heartburn as well as atrial fibrillation
If you take medication, you should be informed about its effect and the exact area of application. To help you with this, we have compiled patient information on taking medications for the following medical conditions Heartburn as well as Atrial fibrillation Compiled.
Learn how to take these medications, what the side effects are, and what to watch out for when taking them with other medications:
Storing medications correctly
Just as important as taking medications properly is storing them properly. Medicines should generally not be exposed to high heat or direct sunlight. Even in special drug boxes, storage at a room temperature of 15 to 25 degrees Celsius is required. Do not keep medicines in the bathroom. Because this storage location is not suitable due to the highly fluctuating humidity. The frequently elevated temperature is not suitable.
Tablets that are particularly sensitive to moisture or light should remain in their original packaging. This also applies to medications that should be stored in the refrigerator at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius or frozen at -18 degrees Celsius or colder. It is best to keep the outer packaging. Always read the package insert on. They contain important information on use, storage and shelf life.
Know side effects and interactions
If patients take several medications at the same time, this can lead to dangerous interactions. Your doctor should therefore know all the medicines you are taking in order to give you advice on what exactly to look out for. Drug interactions – just like with food – can have various consequences. How to increase, decrease or cancel the effect of the medication. For example, taking St. John's wort preparations, even as a tea, should always be discussed with a doctor, since St. John's wort affects the action of many drugs. Certain antibiotics or preparations against osteoporosis may become ineffective if taken at the same time as mineral tablets (calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron). There are also a number of medications that affect blood prere.
To prevent drug interactions, patients have been required since 1. October 2016 a legal right to a medication plan. A medication plan contains all your medicines, including those you buy yourself, and lists important information on dosage and when to take them.
Be careful with medications during pregnancy
Taking certain medications during pregnancy can be dangerous. Since the active ingredients also reach the unborn child via the mother's blood, pregnant women should obtain information and advice at an early stage.
Report suspected side effects
Patients can also disclose information regarding rare, previously unknown side effects of a medication. By doing so, you may be helping to improve the safety of a medication. The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) and the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) have developed a form for this purpose, which you can use to report a suspected case online. Affected persons can also contact the competent authority (BfArM or PEI) by telephone or fax. The corresponding numbers can be found in the package insert.
Taking medication: This is what caregivers and chronically ill patients should keep in mind
Many people in need of care and those with chronic conditions take multiple supplements. Make sure you are aware of all medications – including over-the-counter ones. If in doubt, check with your doctor to see if the different agents interact with each other.
With so many medications to take, it's easy to lose track of what's going on. In an easy-to-open plastic box, the medications can be pre-sorted for the entire week – clearly distributed among the different doses per day. But make sure that there are no light or moisture sensitive medicines underneath and that the storage temperature is correct.