Taking medication on an empty stomach for faster effectiveness; risk of mucosal damage!

It is not sufficient to simply issue a prescription on which the prescription is simply noted: e.g. one tablet three times a day. The patient should be informed in detail whether he should take the medication on an empty stomach or after meals. Taking the drug on an empty stomach allows for more rapid absorption into the body, as emptying from the stomach and thus absorption from the intestines is faster. However, some orally taken medications can be aggressive to the mucosa due to their physical/chemical properties by arrosion of the mucus in the stomach. This produces gastric pain and even gastritis. Classic examples are aspirin and ibuprofen. For this reason, some physicians additionally prescribe acid-suppressing drugs prophylactically.

Non-fasting intake protects mucus

In contrast, taking medications after a food intake ensures more mucus protection because the medications fall softly onto the previously consumed food mush bed. The disadvantage of this variant is that they remain in the stomach together with food for 3-4 hours. Due to this and the action of the acid, the drugs are attacked and partially destroyed, so the effect may be insufficient. This is observed, for example, when taking proton pump blockers to suppress acid production. They are particularly sensitive to acid.

Caution when taking different medications at the same time!

It is very important that the doctor points out the interaction of different medications.

Some medications taken together may enhance each other’s effect, but another mix of medications may inhibit, i.e. neutralize the effect.

What should medications be taken with?

Drinks with which medicines are taken also have an influence on the absorption of medicines.

Milk and dairy products form complexes with certain drugs, which are then poorly absorbed into the body. Alcohol is broken down in the liver and the enzymes responsible for this are stimulated. Therefore, drugs that are disposed of by these catalysts can also be broken down more. However, alcohol can also enhance the effect of drugs, causing liver damage. Grapefruit juice can increase the effect of some drugs by up to 70%, leading to dangerous reactions. Therefore, this juice should not be used to take medications. In general, it is recommended to take medicines with tap water.

Can medications be taken all at once or must they be spread throughout the day if more than one application has been prescribed?

If more than one tablet needs to be taken daily to achieve an effect, you can take these tablets at the same time as long as the effect lasts for a whole day. Some tablets or capsules therefore also have the additional designation “retard”. This makes it easier to take the medication, since you only have to remember to take it once a day. However, if a drug only works for a certain period of time and then continuously loses its effectiveness, it is advisable to spread it out over the day.

In this case, there is a risk of forgetting the rhythm of taking the medication (e.g. morning-lunchtime-evening), resulting in an underdosage of the medication.

The medically correct and sensible intake of medication must therefore be carefully discussed between the doctor and the patient. Consideration must be given to mucus and mucosal protection, dose and duration of action, interaction of different medications taken at the same time, and taking the medication with plenty of still water.