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Medicines to Be Taken on an Empty Stomach

Updated on December 10, 2018
Sherry H profile image

Sherry Haynes is currently pursuing a PharmD degree and has experience in both the clinical and management sides of pharmacy.

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Many people taking medicines are not sure when to take them in relation to meals. In fact some also wonder if it even makes any difference.

Food can affect the action of your medicines for which there is a medical term called “drug-food interaction”. Drug-food interactions can cause changes in proportion of a drug entering the circulation. For example, taking a drug on empty stomach may lead to stomach irritability, Similarly, taking a drug after food may cause you to vomit which will result in the drug coming out of your body.

For meds that are supposed to be taken on an empty stomach it is not that bad if you forgot to take the medicine and had your meal. The solution is to take it as soon as you remember. But, if the time for next dose arrives you need to skip it. However, if you keep on taking these meds with food repeatedly it is possible that they are not working.

My father was also affected

My father who has a history of cardiac bypass was prescribed Lasix tablet. He did not notice the meds counselling sheet on which it was advised to take it before meals. Because he was used to taking another medicine of same type (torsemide) after food, he continued to take the similar one after meals too. When he saw his edema not improving, he called me to check. I asked him how and when he was taking all of his meds. Later, I could figure out that he was taking Lasix after meals when he should be taking it before.

Why some medicines must be taken before meals?

There are two main reasons for which you need to take some medicines on an empty stomach.

  1. Taking a medicine at the same time as your meal delays its absorption. This can lead to a decreased level of drug in the circulation causing treatment failure. Alternatively, some foods may increase the absorption of drug. This will cause an increased level of the drug in the circulation which may lead to toxicity and adverse effects.
  2. Some medicines such as bethanecol can cause nausea or vomiting when taken after a meal.

List of Medicines to Be Taken Before Food- In Alphabetical Order

Generic names
Brand names
Uses
Instructions
Alendronate
Fosamax, Binosto
For osteoporosis, Paget's disease
Take 30 minutes with plain water glass before you eat or drink anything.
Ampicillin
Omnipen, Amcil, Principen
Many infections- ear, bladder infections, E. coli and salmonella infections
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food.
Azithromycin capsule and syrup/oral suspension (extended release) form
Zithromax
For bacterial infections of skin and soft tissues.
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food.
Bethanecol
Duvoid, Urecholine
For treatment of urinary retention.
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals.
Bisacodyl
Dulcolax, Alophen, Correctol, Muxol, Bisacolax
Constipation, Cleaning out intestine before bowel exam or surgery.
Do not have milk, antacids, or medicines that lowers stomach acidity 2 hours before or after taking bisacodyl.
Captopril
Capoten, Aceten, Capotrel
Lowers blood pressure, treats heart failure
Take 1 hour before meals/food.
Ceftibuten oral suspension
Cedax
Pharyngitis, tonsilitis, ear infection, acute exacerbated chronic bronchitis.
Suspension should be taken 1 hour before or 2 hours after food. Capsules can be taken with or without food.
Cilostazol
Pletal, Cilodoc, Cilotab
In intermittent claudication - reduced blood flow to legs causing pain while walking
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food.
Cloxacillin
Cloxapen, Tegopen
Bacterial infections - skin, bone, heart-valve, blood and lung infections.
Take 1 hour before or two hours after food.
Demeclocycline
Declomycin
In treatment of in the treatment of Lyme disease, acne, and bronchitis.
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. Do not take with milk and dairy products.
Didanosine
Videx -EC, videx
HIV infection
Both capsule and oral solution should be taken at least 30 minutes before or 2 hours after meal.
Diethypropion
Tenuate
For Obestity
Take 1 hour before meals.
Digoxin
Lanoxin, Digox, Digitek, Lanoxicaps
Treatment of various heart conditions- heart failure, irregular heart beats.
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.
Dipyridamole
Persantine
Used as a blood thinner for various purposes.
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals.
Erythromycin
Ery-tab, E-Mycin, Eric
Various bacterial infections such as in pneumonia, bronchitis, Legionnaire's disease.
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food.
Etidronate
Didronel
Paget's disease of bone, heterotopic ossification after hip replacement surgery.
Take with a full glass of water at least 2 hours before or after food, drink, medicines including antacids or vitamins.
Filodipine
Plendil
For lowering blood pressure.
Take without food or with a light meal.
Furosemide
Lasix
Treat fluid retention (oedema) in people with heart or liver disease or kidney problem.
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food.
Indinavir
Crixivan
To treat HIV infection
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food.
Isoniazid
Niazid
To treat tuberculosis
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after with a full glass of water.
Lansoprazole
Prevacid
Treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastric and duodenal ulcers.
Taking 30 minutes to 1 hour before food is preferable.
Levodopa
Sinemet (carbidopa/levodopa)
Reduces symptoms of slowness, stiffness, and tremors.
Take 30-45 minutes before or 1 hour after meals.
Levothyroxine
Levothroid, synthroid, unithroid, levoxyl, thyronorm
To treat hypothyroidism
Take 30-60 minutes before food intake.
Loratadine
Claritin
Seasonal allergy symptoms- sneezing, runny nose, teary and red eyes
Regular tables may be taken with or without food. The rapidly dissolving tablets should be taken on an empty stomach.
Loracarbef
Lorabid
Pneumonia, middle ear infection (otitis media), acute and chronic bronchitis
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food.
Methotrexate
Trexall, Rheumatrex
Cancer, severe psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis
Take before food for best absorption.
Moexipril
Univasc
Lowers blood pressure, treats heart failure
Take 1 hour before meals.
Mycophenolate mofetil
Cellcept, Myortic
In organ transplant cases- to prevent body from rejecting transplants.
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food.
Nafcillin injection
Nallpen, Unipen
For infections caused by gram positive bacteria
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals- it is an injected in hospital so it will be taken care of.
Omeprazole
Losec, Prelosec, Zegerid
To treat acid reflux, ulcers, relieve symptoms of heartburn, difficulty in sawallowing, and persistent cough
Capsules and powder- at least 1 hour before meal, tablets- with or without food
Oxacillin
Bactocill
Infections caused by bacteria such as staphylococci
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food.
Oxytetracycline
Urobiotic, genox, foetocin, oxyteracin
For bacterial infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food (and milk)
Penicillinamine
Cupremine, cuprinyl
For rheumatoid arthritis, wilson's disease
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food, milk or medicine
Penicillin G
Pfizerpen, Sigma
Bacterial infection
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. Take with little food if these upset your stomach.
Penicillin VK
Penicillin VK, H-Pen, Pen-vee k
Bacterial infection
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. Take with little food if it upsets your stomach.
Pentaerythritol tetranitrate
Duotrate, Pentylan
For Angina
Take at least 30 minutes before or 1 hour after food.
Perindopril
Aceon
To lower blood pressure
Take 1 hour before meal preferably.
Phentermine
Axion, Adipex, Duromine, Fastin, Suprenza
To treat obesity
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after breakfast. Some brands (suprenza disintegrating tabs may be taken with or without food)
Procainamide
Pronestyl, Procan-SR
To treat abnormal heart rhythms
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals with a glass of water.
Propantheline
Probanthine
To treat stomach acid in stomach ulcers
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals.
Repaglinide
Prandin
In management of type 2 diabetes
Take 15 minutes before main meals. If you skip meals you should skip the medicine too.
Rifabutin
Mycobutin
For bacterial infections, tuberculosis
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.
Rifampin
Rifadin, Rimactane
Prevent and treat tuberculosis and other infections
Take with full glass of water, 1 hour before or 2 after meals.
Riluzole
Rilutek
ALS syndrome
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals.
Risedronate
Actonel, Atelvia
Osteoporosis, Paget's disease of bone
Take at least 30 minutes before breakfast or after. Do not take with milk, coffee, juice, or milk and other dairy products.
Roxithromycin
Roxid
Bacterial infections of nose, throat, lungs, skin or ear.
Take at least 15 minutes before food or 2 hours after.
Sucralfate
Carafate
Treat and prevent duodenal ulcers
Take at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.
Sulfamethoxazole- trimethoprim oral
Bactrim, Septra
To treat wide number of bacterial infections
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food. If stomach upset occurs take with little food or milk.
Sulfisoxazole
Gantricin
Bacterial infections, bladder, kidney, ear infections
Take 1 hour before meal preferably.
Sotalol
Betapace, Betapace-AF, Sorine
To treat severe abnormal heart rhythms
Take half hour before or 2 hours after meals
Tetracycline
Sumycin
Wide variety of infections
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating meals.
Zafirlukast
Accolate
Reduce asthma attacks, prevent asthma symptoms
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food
Zalcitabine
Hivid
HIV infection
Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after food

How long before meals should these medicines be taken?

  • Follow the instructions you receive while getting your prescription filled. Ask your prescriber or pharmacist, if you are not sure about each medicine on your prescription.
  • Usually, labels that come with drugs also provide information.
  • Generally, it is advised to take these medicines an hour before or 2 hours after taking a meal. For some drugs that are harsh on stomach you may take them with some biscuits.

Steps to follow for medication safety and efficacy

  • Follow the instructions from your prescriber and pharmacist.
  • Take medicines with a full glass of water.
  • Read the prescription label on the container. If you do not understand something or think you need more information, ask your physician or pharmacist.
  • Read directions, warnings and interaction precautions printed on all medication labels and package inserts. Even over-the-counter medications can cause problems.
  • Make sure to follow all your doctor's dietary and medical instructions to make sure your treatment is working safely and effectively.

Disclaimer

This article is intended for informational purpose only. It should not take the place of advice from your doctor, pharmacist, or other health-care professionals. Always ask them if you have unusual symptoms, or any problem when you are using your medicines. This article may not cover all medicines or every type of medicines.

References

  1. Stockley, I. H., & Baxter, K. (2008). Stockley's drug interactions: A source book of interactions, their mechanisms, clinical importance, and management (8th ed.). London ; Chicago: Pharmaceutical Press.
  2. Joe G., Teresa G. (1999). The people's pharmacy guide, New york ; St. Martin's press, pg : 59-73.
  3. Rabia Bushra, Nousheen Aslam, Arshad Yar Khan. Food-Drug Interactions. Oman Med J. 2011;26(2):77-83. doi:10.5001/omj.2011.21.
  4. McClung MR, Miller PD, Brown JP, Zanchetta J, Bolognese MA, Benhamou CL et al. Efficacy and safety of a novel delayed-release risedronate 35 mg once-a-week tablet. Osteoporos Int 2011

© 2018 Sherry Haynes

Comments

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    • Sherry H profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Haynes 

      13 months ago

      Thanks Kenneth, it means a lot.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      13 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Sherry -- nice hub. Nice lay-out. Your text is not crowded--meaning that there is plenty of white space around your text blocks and your charts, etc., are not butting anything. Great job.

      And I also found this hub to be very beneficial to consumers who are having to buy their med's.

      Nice work, dear friend.

    • Frances Metcalfe profile image

      Frances Metcalfe 

      13 months ago from The Limousin, France

      You're welcome Miebakagh!

    • Sherry H profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Haynes 

      13 months ago

      Thank you Liz.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      13 months ago from UK

      Very useful article.I was told to take lansoprasole 30 minutes before food.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      13 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      @Frances, I do not realize it was in an alphabetical order. Thanks for drawing our attention to it. It is an informative article god for referencing.

    • Sherry H profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Haynes 

      13 months ago

      Hi Frances, thank you so much. Glad you are not on any meds.

    • Frances Metcalfe profile image

      Frances Metcalfe 

      13 months ago from The Limousin, France

      Hi Sherry, it's a good comprehensive list, and being in alphabetical order makes it easy to look up. Fortunately I don't take any meds!

    • Sherry H profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Haynes 

      13 months ago

      Alright. I will see what I can do to it. Thanks for the feedback.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      13 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Hi, Sherry H, I and others will appreciate it to be simpler without deleting the main points. Thank you.

    • Sherry H profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Haynes 

      13 months ago

      Hi, Meibakagh. I know this must be a lot to take but you don't have to remember everything mentioned here. It is just meant to be used as a reference list. If a drug you are using falls in this list, know that it should be taken before food. I think I will go through it again to make it look more simpler. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      13 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Hi, Sherry, there is too much information beyond the ordinary here. Thanks, anyway.

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