Pills, Stomachs, Vomit, and Safety

First of all, if I ever had a real question about my health or any medication I might take I would call my doctor. That said . . .

How much time must elapse before a pill is considered “in your system?” For example, if I take a drug and vomit it up five minutes later, I’ll probably assume that I may as well have not taken the medicine in question and perhaps take another dose. On the other hand, if I take a pill and then get sick five hours later, I’m probably going to assume that the drug “took,” and not worry about it.

I anticipate that people will say something like, “Well, it depends on the drug.” I understand that, but I’m wondering if there might be some “general rule.” It might not matter much if a person at home misses a dose of sudaphed or double doses on aspirin, but I imagine that a “vomit rule” could be quite important at a hospital where missed and double doses of drugs can result in death.

Thanks in advance.

This post inspired by a baby who decided to wake her father up at four in the morning and spew about a gallon of antibiotic-laced formula all over him.

I’ve often wondered that too, as I take meds in the morning, but that’s also the worst time for my nervous cough, which actually makes me gag and throw up sometimes. I’d say twenty minutes for the pill to be absorbed (unless it’s an extended-release pill/capsule, in which case you’re SOL), but I’ll consult my pharmacologist friend on my other board. You’ll probably have your answer before she gets back to me though…

  • s.e.

Once she answers, I’ll copy and paste her reply and you’ll have the definitive verdict from an actual pharmacologist. (Which is not to be confused with a pharmacist.)

  • s.e.

She’s passing the buck to your pharmacist… :wink:

*it really depends on the drug itself. different meds have different rules as to what to do if you vomit within certain periods of time after taking it. the best option when that happens is to call the pharmacist and tell them. some drugs you really should take another, some you really shouldn’t. tell the woman the next time it happens to call her pharmacist and tell them what happened and ask what to do. with antibiotics it is very important to not miss a dose, so if she should have given another pill, that is important to know.

not much help. but when in doubt, call the pharmacy.*

Sorry, she just assumed you’re a woman. I have no idea why.

  • s.e.

HE (your pharmacologist friend :wink: ) must think long blond hair wouldn’t grow on a man’s head . . .

Thanks a lot for the effort, scott. I didn’t expect an answer (much less three) anywhere near that fast.

Although it was mostly curiosity that motivated the creation of this thread, there is a practical element as well–these things (post-medication vomit) happen, and there’s not always a medical professional to turn to for advise.

Anyway, if any doctors, nurses, pharmacists, or readers of medical thrillers out there could comment on this, I’d be much obliged. Thanks.

Multiple factors come into play, including the medication, the vehicle that it’s in (gelcap, wax matrix, timed-release vs. rapid release), the contents of the stomach at the time (food, amount and strength of acid), the rapidity with which the stomach is currently emptying (determined by many factors), the amount of digestive enzymes being poured into the small bowel by the pancreas at the time, etc. etc. etc.

So you see, the answer can be “anywhere from two minutes to 6 hours or longer”.