Should I take my medicine with or without food?

Eating may increase, decrease, or have no effect on the absorption of a medicine. Generally speaking, medicines are absorbed quicker when taken on an empty stomach. However, the timing of when you take a majority of the medicines relative to eating does not affect the efficacy of the medicine. You should take your medicine during a meal, if this prevents adverse reactions, such as the irritation of the stomach caused by some antibiotics.

  • Eating may increase, decrease, or have no effect on the absorption of a medicine
  • The timing of when you take your medicine with regard to eating does not usually matter with regard to the efficacy of the medicine
  • On an empty stomach means that the medicine must be taken at least one hour prior to eating or two to three hours after a meal
  • Together with a meal, the medicine is taken when you eat, for example, eat a sandwich at the same time as you take your medicine
  • Medicine taken before a meal is taken 15 to 30 minutes before eating

Some medicines are used to treat eating-related problems, in which case the time they should be taken is defined precisely relative to eating. Sucralfate taken for heartburn, for example, is taken one hour prior to eating if the heartburn is related to a stomach or duodenal ulcer, and one hour after eating if the heartburn is related to esophagitis.

The relationship between medicine and a meal is described with a variety of terms

Taking on an empty stomach can be ensured by taking the medicine one hour prior to eating, which gives the medicine time to be absorbed from an empty stomach before a meal. If you are to take a medicine only after eating, you must wait two to three hours after a meal to give time for the food to exit your stomach.

Before a meal means that the medicine is taken around 15 to 30 minutes before eating. These kinds of medicines include bolus insulins, a type of diabetes medicine.

You follow the instruction to take a medicine together with a meal if you eat a sandwich, for example, when taking the medicine. A larger meal is, therefore, not always necessary.