What If I Miss A Dose?: Ask a Pharmacist

ND Medina

December 4, 2019

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Your pharmacist is able to help you with far more questions about your health than you might realize, yet few people take advantage of this powerful tool in their health and wellness arsenal. Pharmacists can help you with all types of questions about common illnesses like cold and flu, how to take medication, how medications interact, how to manage various disease states like high blood pressure and diabetes, and more. In fact, here is one question you may not know to ask your pharmacist, but should. 

What should I do if I miss a dose of my medication?

For the vast majority of cases, the following advice for an unintentional missed dose will do:


  • If you forget to take one or more doses: take your next dose at the normal time and in the normal amount.  Do not take any more than your doctor prescribed.
  • If you miss one dose, skip it and continue with your normal schedule.


“Depending on the medication, you can simply take your next dose as soon as you remember. But if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue on your regular schedule,” says supervising pharmacist Jacky Zhang at Medly Pharmacy.


“Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist before doing so because every medication is different. Some medications you cannot just skip; you have to double up. Not all medicines are the same. Generally you can take a skipped day, but before doing so consult with your doctor or pharmacist.” 


According to WebMD, if it has been less than two hours since your scheduled dose, it is okay to go ahead and take your missed dose. However, if it has been more than two hours, what to do depends on how often you generally take that medication. 


If you usually take that medication twice a day, it is probably safe to take your medication provided the medication in question is not insulin. Since your next dose is in another few hours, there’s less risk of overdose. 


If you take that medication three or more times a day, it’s okay to skip that dose and wait until the next one. 


Whatever you do, there is rarely a need to take two doses to “make up” for missing a dose, so don’t do it. 

What if I feel sick when I miss a dose?

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Missing a dose of some anti-depressants — such as Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Lexapro — may result in something called “discontinuation syndrome.” 


Symptoms of discontinuation syndrome include:


  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle pain
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Blurred vision
  • Irritability
  • Tingling sensations
  • Vivid dreams
  • Sweating or electric shock sensations


Discontinuation syndrome is the result of drugs with a short half-life, which means they stay in your system for a much shorter time than other drugs. 


In order to prevent experiencing discontinuation syndrome, you should work out a tapering schedule with your prescribing doctor if you plan on going off these medications. Otherwise, your symptoms should improve with your next regularly scheduled dose. 

How to Make Sure You Don’t Miss a Dose

There’s one surefire way to make sure you don’t miss a dose. 


On Amazon and in drugstores across the country, you can purchase pill organizers, which can help you separate your medication into days of the week and even times of the day. For example, you could purchase two pill organizers: one for your morning doses, and one for your evening doses. 


Fill each pill box at the beginning of each week, and you will never be confused about whether or not you’ve missed a dose again. 


There are also online apps, such as MediSafe, which can remind you to take your medication and track whether or not you have taken it. 


No matter what, always keep remaining medications in their original containers. You want to make sure you have all the correct information on the bottle when it comes to refills and expiration dates.