Are you taking your medicine on time?

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Importance of medicines:

“A medicine is a life saver and can be a poison if not taking in optimum dose at a scheduled time”

Medicines are very important to treat us from illness but many times it does not work even we are taking the right medicine. Here the question is, are you taking it on time. May be answer will be yes, but if I ask how then people used to say “its prescribed as twice a day, so I am taking two times in a day, one in the morning around 9 AM after breakfast and one in the evening around 5 PM after snacks.”

But, is it correct?

Now here you need to understand a little bit about how medicine works in our body and it will clear that how you may be taking your medicines in a wrong way. So, you must know the following information to be clearer on this.

How medicines act:

Every medicine has a therapeutic concentration to show its beneficial effect. Concentration of drug in systemic solution (in blood) will go down after a certain period of time due to different process of Absorption, Distribution and Metabolism under our body. At last excretion takes place to wash out the drugs simultaneously from our body through urine, stool and sweat after giving its response.

Importance of schedule of medicine:

Maintaining schedule is very important aspect of a drug to show its optimum effect. Some medicines are allowed to take weekly, once in day, twice in a day and even 4 times or 5 times in a day. This frequency is based on their rate of excretion from the body and severity of the disease.

Schedule of a drug is depending upon:

  • Drug route: It’s the route of drug administration like oral, Intravenous, Intramuscular, Bilingual, Subcutaneous etc.
  • Dose of drug: Dose is the quantity or amount of a drug taken on a particular time. Generally, it is weight (for solids like tablet and capsule) or volume (for liquids like syrup and suspension) of the drug measure in milligram, microgram, Milliliter, inhalations etc.
  • Peak concentration time, Tmax: The time when drug reaches to its maximum systemic concentration after administration of drug
  • Maximum therapeutic concentration in blood, Cmax: The maximum amount of drug in the blood on a given time
  • Severity of illness: Mild, Moderate and Severe
  • Sensitivity of drug: Also called as drug intolerance which includes allergy, Toxicity, Adverse drug reaction or side effect etc.
  • Mechanism of action: Biological Pathway of a drug to show its pharmacological action
  • Class of medicine

Maximum limit of time deviation:

Drugs used for treating some severe condition are time dependent. A medicine can be given 30 min prior or after the schedule. It can harm or show lesser effect than expected if it is greater than mentioned deviation. (e.g. drug against transplant rejection, antacid, insulin, anti diabetic, antibiotics etc.)

Few drugs are not much dependent on time and can be given 1 or 2 hours prior or after schedule. It will not cause any harm or lack of efficacy (schedule like as needed, daily, weekly, monthly)

Importance of meal in drug schedule:

You might be wondering why sometimes drugs are prescribed empty stomach and why sometimes after meal. Meal is an important aspect for Tmax, because it affects absorption of a drug in the stomach on intestine.

Empty stomach:

  • Few medicines are needed to maintain internal condition to reduce excess gas formation or to stop nauseating, after taking medicine for a disease
  • Food can slow down or stops the complete absorption of the drug
  • Some drugs are given to maintain the good bacterial environment for easy breakdown of food and its digestion

After meal:

  • Reduces the common side effects of drugs (e.g. nausea, vomiting, irritation)
  • Retain the drug in body for maximum duration for proper absorption along with food to show best efficacy in case of heartburn, reflux etc
  • Taking drug after meal also protect digestive system from drug related damage of mucosal membrane

Frequency in a prescription:

Reading a Doctor’s writing is not everyone’s cup of tea. So, I am describing a little bit about frequencies of a drug that usually confuse us. Actually, most of the abbreviations are written in Latin language, so don’t be confused with full form in English. Here we go-

    • QD: Quaque die means once a day means 1 in 24 hours. Daily on the same time.
    • BID: bis in die means twice a day means one in 12 hours. Now, I will explain the question of my first paragraph in this article. Twice a day means you have to give an equal gap of 24 hours of the day into two parts. For example, if you are taking one medicine at 9 AM morning then take the second one after 12 hours at 9 PM in night. Same will apply for all the frequencies next.
    • TID: Ter in die means three times a day means 1 in every 8 hours. You can have a time deviation of 1 to 2 hours as per your sleeping habits, but depends on medicine type as well.
    • QID: Quarter in die means four times a day means 1 in every 6 hours. Consider deviation as above.
    • SOS: Si opus sit means if necessary. Synonyms PRN means pro re nata means as needed

There are many things to explain as it’s a vast area to explore but in this article I have tried to give you the required information in short which are very important to know.

I know you want to know more about this interesting topic. If yes, please let me know the topic of your interest in the comment box. I will be happy to share my knowledge with you.


All the information given above is just for knowledge purpose. Kindly follow your doctor’s prescription because treatment of a disease depends upon various factors and condition of the individual patient.

Please consult to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any decision about your medication.

Ravi Choubey
Ravi Choubey

A health care professional and compliance specialist, want to aware people about their lifestyle and health. Lack of knowledge leads to various types of lifestyle diseases and other health related problems which can be avoided by awareness and precautions.


  1. Thanks for explaining how maintaining your medication schedule will allow the drug to perform its task at optimal levels. I would imagine that people would often lack the commitment to stay on schedule, or even just plain forget about it entirely. I really think this could be solved by a well-organized medicine box right beside at all time so that you can be sure that your meds are working as they should be.

  2. This very important and relevant topic chosen by you. Many of us in the society including the educated ones are so ignorant about frequency of medicines and consequences of not adhering to the schedule. For instance an irregular schedule followed for antibiotics can lead to drug resistance…we tend to alter timings as per convenience like we do it for our meals…Hope this article helps many to understand this.

  3. Thanks for your good words…

  4. Good to read an article explaining importance of timing of medication and also detail of frequency.

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