Pills to be "taken with food"

I’m currently taking two medications. One specifies “take with food” and the other says “take any time.”

Why does this matter? Is it just that the first pill might irritate an otherwise empty stomach? Or does it affect, oh, how the drug acts or is absorbed or something?

Also, what counts as ‘food’? Is a granola bar or a container of yogurt enough to work the magic, or should it be a full meal?

Either or both. In most cases, a snack as you describe is usually adequate.

I guess if you are starving this can be a real problem.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist.

It costs a hundred bucks to ask my doctor anything.

I can’t think of a single question in the history of this forum that cannot be answered with “Ask a degreed professional”.

Well, the doctor hadn’t said anything about the timing when she prescribed the pills, and I didn’t notice what it said on the pill bottle until later at home, sooo… I thought I’d turn here.

I mean, there is nothing that some Doper doesn’t know, right?

I know that if I have to take any medication that says “Take with food” - then that means I’d better eat first, even if it’s just a granola bar. What happens if I don’t is that I’ll feel very nauseated - and I hate that feeling. Better to eat than be sorry.

Your pharmacist almost surely knows much more about the drug than your doctor does, and his advice is free. He can probably even give advice over the phone.

It’s probably to prevent an upset stomach/nausea from the drug irritating your stomach or from rapid absorption (many people get nauseous due to the “rush” from taking opiate painkillers on an empty stomach, for instance). Some people will be fine with an empty stomach, some will need a full meal. It just depends on your particular body. If you don’t have a particularly delicate stomach, have a small snack. If it makes you sick, eat more next time.

Agreed. Call your pharmacist for questions like this.

I can think of two reasons for the “with food” stipulation:

  1. Food interferes with the passage of the chemicals through your digestive tract - by getting mixed with food, the chemicals don’t go through faster than does the food.
  2. Buffer - the stuff is nasty to your digestive tract so it gets diluted by food.

Can anyone confirm the "eat something before taking a multi-vitamin pill? I’ve heard that reson 1 makes it necessary.

I found out the hard way that you really do need to eat first. It caused extreme nausea and discomfort for an hour or so. Another time, I found out that a bowl of ice cream wasn’t enough, but as always, YMMV on how much you need to eat.

I can only offer a couple of data points - twice in my life I’ve had to take medications that should be taken with food, and in both cases it was because the meds could cause intense nausea if taken on an empty stomach. One was Eurythomiacyn prescribed for an abcessed tooth…when I called my dentist to ask if my intense nausea was common he cheerfully told me “Oh, yeah - we call that Barfomyacin. Don’t take it on an empty stomach!” Gee, thanks.

Individual biology will determine what and how much you need to eat first. For me, a banana or a granola bar works just fine as a buffer against nausea and gut issues.

Also, yeah, call the pharmacist. Free, and they usually are pretty hip to common issues like this.

Your pharmacist should answer free of charge. If he doesn’t then fire him and get another pharmacist.

Shortly after I started taking Indomethacin I asked my pharmacist about the take with food requirement. He said some but not all patients get diarrhea if they don’t do so. He said he himself was a an indo user, and was one of those who had no lower GI side effects from skipping the food. He also said a very small amount of food, such as a spoonfull of peanut butter or a few crackers, was all that was needed for almost any patient. I have found I do not need to take it with food either, but usually do anyway just in case I suddenly develop a need for it.

I’ve taken a couple of “take with food” meds in my life. Hormonal agents such as birth control tend to be absorbed better if taken with food – that pharmacist alluded to them shooting too quickly through your plumbing for the full dose to be absorbed. The flip side was antibiotics – all of thm have made me nauseated if taken on an empty stomach. They seem to irritate the stomach lining or something, I think. But even just a few crackers or a slice of toast seemed to count as “enough” to counteract. Bland absorbent foods are your friend in cases like that.

So sorry, OP, but without knowing what precise meds you’ve been prescribed – and I uderstand preferring to keep that info private – I’m not sure what else we can tell ya. Unless QTheM wants to wander by with a combo of medical advise and gruesomely entertaining stories. (Hint, hint.)

Yes, you’re all right: I will call my pharmacy today. In the meantime I’ve been taking the pills along with my dinner, figuring better safe than sorry.

Thanks for the info/advice!