Generally, if you miss a dose of your prescription medication you should take the missed dose as soon as you remember, especially if it is just within a few hours of when you were supposed to take it. If it is almost time for your next dose of that medicine, you should skip the missed dose and just take your next scheduled dose as prescribed. Usually, you should not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses to make up for the missed dose. However, it depends on the type of medication you are taking.
Many maintenance medications (the medications your take every day to treat long-term issues like high blood pressure or cholesterol) remain in your bloodstream for a while, so missing an occasional dose may not be harmful. There are certain medications where it may be more important to check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure what to do after missing a dose, for example anti-coagulant medicines (also known as ‘blood thinners’) may have a different set of rules for missed doses.
For short-term medications, such as antibiotics, the same general rules apply. If it’s only been a few hours, you can take your missed dose. For example, if you are scheduled to take 2 pills a day (once in the morning and the other at bedtime) and it is only lunchtime, then take your missed dose. However, you always can ask your pharmacist or physician as soon as possible how to proceed if you’ve missed a dose longer than a few hours. If it is almost time for your next dose of medication, the safest thing would be to skip the missed dose and take your next scheduled dose instead.
Avoid Doubling Dosing
Most of the time, you do not want to double up your dose of medicine to make up for a missed dose. Taking a double dose of medication can temporarily increase the amount of medication in your system, which could increase unwanted side effects or become more of a risk than a benefit. This could especially be true if you are taking multiple medications.
When In Doubt
Call your local pharmacist or physician if you’ve missed a dose or are uncertain what to do next. Your pharmacist is a great free resource!