Suppose that I have to take some medication three times a day; one in the morning, one at lunch and one during dinner.
Now when I take a plane to go on vacation and cross multiple time zones, how should I schedule my medication?
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My wife is physician and she says:
You shouldn't change your physician prescription times unless:
- you do it one or two hours per day (i.e. you take 3 pills each 8 hours, so you can advance one hour the first pill, then take the second 8 or 9 hours later and the last one 8 hours later.. maximum 2 hours).
- you ask your physician and he approves the change.
Of course, you can start adapting your schedule before starting your vacations.
Different medicines have different requirements on when they're taken. Some can be quite general, some very specific (eg a very definite interval). Some have specific requirements about being before / during / after food. All of this means that what works for one medicine won't work for another, and what's safe with one can be dangerous with another!
Your first step can be to read the information leaflet that comes with your medicines, especially the parts on when to take it and what to do if you miss a dose. You may find that that gives you all the answers you need, and you can safely work out what to do from it.
However, the only safe step is to go and speak to your doctor about it. They can look up exactly how it behaves with taking it earlier or later, and then they can advise you on how to change your timings before, during and after the journey.
The only safe way is to ask your doctor.
Personally I take daily meds, and just half the difference. If the timezone is 8 hours ahead, I take it 4 hours ahead the first night, and then the new normal time the second night. Given I normally vary the take time anyway as I have them just before bedtime, a few hours difference doesn't matter.
However, for time-specific ones - say, tablets that need taking every x hours, this is not advised. In that case, slow adjustments is probably the best, but as I said - your doctor is the definitive judge on this decision.
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