Taking water with your medicine helps move it along to your stomach and intestine, where it can be absorbed. If you don’t swallow enough water, your medicine may not be able to do its job properly, or may even cause side effects.
What is the right amount?
The right amount of water to take can vary, depending on what medication you are taking.
Some common medicines like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen must be taken with good amount of water. Otherwise you increase your chances of experiencing irritation to your oesophagus and/or stomach and possible development of gastric ulcers.
The amount of water needed can also depend on size of tablets or pills you are taking. You will need to swallow more water with a large tablet or capsule versus a small tablet.
The right amount of water will depend on which medicines you are taking and the medical conditions that you have. Always read the label of your medicine, as this will include information on how much water you need to take with your medicine, particularly if you need to take a good amount.
Is water best?
Most medicines are best taken with water. Any special instructions on what fluids and how much to take will always be labelled appropriately on your medicine label.
When it comes to fluids other than water, the general recommendation is ‘it depends on the medicine’. Milk contains calcium and magnesium which can reduce some medicines absorption and effectiveness. Tea and coffee contain caffeine, with tea also containing theophylline, tannin and tannic acid. Taking certain medicines with tea or coffee may result in a rise in blood pressure, interfere with some medicines, or affect drug effectiveness. Alcoholic drinks can aggravate the side effects of some medicines, such as drowsiness, and reduce effectiveness of others. Some soft drinks and fruit juice contain fruit acids that will affect absorption of some medicines and reduce their effectiveness.
Your pharmacist will develop a schedule to be sure you are taking all of your medicines properly. Remember, always read the label of your medicines – and if you are unsure, check with your pharmacist.
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