If you have any concerns about the information below, or need any help understanding it and relating it to your own situation, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
The labels on medicines or the patient information leaflets provided with them sometimes state that a medicine must be taken with or after food. There are six main reasons why medicines may need to be taken with or after food:
(1) Some medicines may cause nausea or vomiting as a side effect.
It is therefore better to take them after a meal to reduce this side effect. Examples include:
Allopurinol (a medicine prescribed for gout, at the start of chemotherapy and other conditions).
Bromocriptine (a medicine prescribed for Parkinson's disease and other conditions).
Madopar (Co-Beneldopa) (a medicine prescribed for Parkinson's disease and other conditions).
(2) Irritant medicines may cause indigestion, stomach inflammation or ulcers as side effects.
Taking the medicine with food will help to reduce its irritant effect. Food such as cookies or a sandwich or a glass of milk is usually enough. Examples include:
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs e.g. diclofenac, ibuprofen (medicines that help to reduce inflammation or swelling that are prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis and other joint problems).
Steroids e.g. prednisolone, dexamethasone (medicines prescribed for a wide range of conditions including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and during chemotherapy).
(3) Antacids e.g. Gaviscon, are taken to prevent heartburn, reflux or indigestion.
This usually occurs when acid is produced as food enters your stomach. Therefore, the most benefit is gained by taking antacids immediately after or in the middle of a meal.
(4) Medicines that act on the mouth or throat should not be used just before eating.
Preparations such as mouthwashes, liquid nystatin and miconazole gel for oral thrush, and preparations for mouth ulcers must be used after meals. This is because eating food washes the medicine away too quickly.
(5) Certain medicines require food in the stomach and gut for them to be absorbed into the bloodstream properly.
For example, the HIV medicines ritonavir, saquinavir and nelfinavir.
(6) Medicines for diabetes, if taken by mouth, should usually be taken around meal times to reduce blood sugar levels after eating, and to avoid hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar).
However, some are taken before meals, some during meals, and some afterwards follow the instructions that you are given.
Some medicines must be taken with or after food. Failing to do this may give you an upset stomach or may stop the medicine from working properly.
NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice,
diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your
physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere.
If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.