Here's why some medicines need to be taken on an empty stomach

There are specific reasons why doctors and pharmacists give instructions on when to take certain medications.

Certain foods and drinks can prompt various physiological changes in the body which could affect the efficacy of the medicines you take, according to the NHS. Doctors and pharmacists give instructions on whether a drug should be taken before or after meals to ensure that the chemicals in them are properly absorbed and utilized by the body.

To be taken before meals

Sometimes you are instructed to take your medicine on an empty stomach to ensure the fastest and most effective absorption, explains:

The changes in the gut with food restrict and therefore affect the effectiveness of these particular medicines. In some cases, elements of food like iron or calcium might bind to chemical structures in medicine.

Typically, certain antibiotics, HIV medicines, and asthma medicines are the common medications that are recommended to be taken on an empty stomach.

During or after meals

There are other medications that you are advised to take during or after a meal. There are various reasons for this as well. For instance, taking certain medicines like allopurinol after a meal, eliminates the feeling of nausea or vomiting that are possible side effects.

Also, the NHS says medicines such as aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen and steroids, ought to be taken with food to reduce the side effects of stomach irritation such as indigestion or ulcers.

Some medicines can irritate the stomach, and taking them with food will reduce this effect. Things such as biscuits or a sandwich, or a glass of milk, are usually enough
Getty/ Hispanolistic

The health regulator also explains that antacids - medicines taken to prevent heartburn and acid reflux as well as indigestion - should be taken during or after a meal to reduce the impact of introducing acid into the stomach.

Other drugs like diabetes medication affect the way the body processes food and so should be taken around mealtime. The NHS explains:

This is to reduce blood sugar levels after eating and to avoid a very low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). Enzyme supplements, which can be used to help people with chronic pancreatitis, should also be taken with food to help the body process the meal.

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