May 9, 2022
4 min. read

Ask a Pharmacist: What If I Miss A Dose?

Medly

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 wellness arsenal. Pharmacists can help you with all types of questions—like those about common illnesses like cold and flu, how to take your medications, how your medications interact, and how to manage various disease states like high blood pressure and diabetes, and more.

An especially common question our pharmacists receive is what to do when a patient misses a dose. To answer the question of what to do when this happens, Viral Shah, our Director of Clinical Service, is here to weigh in. Find out what he has to say about missing a dose, doubling up, and more. 

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

If you’ve missed a dose, what you will do next will depend on the medication you’re taking. 

Shah says, “Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist before doing so because every medication is different.” In general, Shah says, you can tolerate a skipped day, “but before doing so consult with your doctor or pharmacist.”

However, there is a general rule of thumb: if it’s been less than 2 hours since your missed dose, go ahead and take your medication and take your next dose on time. If, however, it’s been more than two hours, skip that dose and take your next dose at the normal time, as prescribed. 

If you feel like your prescription might be an exception to this rule, make sure to contact your doctor or pharmacists before taking any action.  

Should I double my next dose? 

In general, you should avoid doubling up if you miss a dose. But, according to Shah, “Some medications you cannot just skip; you have to double up. Not all medicines are the same.” The important exception? Birth control. Missing your daily dose can lead to unwanted pregnancy, so if you miss a dose of your daily birth control and don’t realize it until the next day, you can take two pills at your usual time (though it’s best to check in with your provider to confirm). You will, however, need to use a back-up form up birth control as well for the next seven days. Because each pill contains such a low dose of hormones, you usually won’t experience any negative side effects from doubling up the next day. 

What if I can’t remember if I took my medication? 

If you’re not sure if you took your last dose as prescribed, simply take your next dose as usual. As always, if you’re feeling anxious or unsure, contact your doctor or pharmacist.  

What if I feel sick when I miss a dose?

Missing a dose of some anti-depressants—such as Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Lexapro—can 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.

Don’t Miss a Dose with Medly

While missed doses do occasionally occur, there are ways to take preventative steps so that you ensure not to miss more doses in the future. In fact, Medly makes it easy to stay on track with your medications in a number of ways.

With a variety of types of medication packaging available, it makes it easier to track and manage your medications. In fact, some of our blister packs are even labeled by weekend day, or morning, noon, and night. Your Medly pharmacists will pack your personalized blister pack according to your medication regime, so taking your meds at the right time, the right way, is easier than ever.

Missed doses occasionally occur because patients forget to refill their medications. But Medly will call you to remind you when it’s time for a refill! And if you’re getting a thirty day supply of your medication, we’ll call your doctor and your insurance to see if we can deliver you a ninety day supply instead.

That way, you’ll be sure not to miss a dose because you don’t have your meds. If you have more than one medication, we’ll also be sure to sync all of your refills, so it’s less of a hassle to get the meds you need.

We also provide financial assistance and medication counseling and education so that if you have any questions about a missed dose, you can easily and quickly contact one of our expert pharmacists about what you should do next.

Sources 

  • Sankar, A. P., Nevedal, D. C., Neufeld, S., & Luborsky, M. R. (2007). What is a missed dose? Implications for construct validity and patient adherence. AIDS care, 19(6), 775–780. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540120600708501
  • Pisacreta, E. (2020, July 7). Does taking two normal birth control pills and then Plan B work if I want to prevent pregnancy after unprotec. . .. Planned Parenthood.
  • Bullock, C., MD. (2019, April 11). Discontinuation syndrome and antidepressants. Harvard Health.

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