Question: Does it matter if a person takes arthritis medications with or without food?
Prescription medications come with instructions about how to take the drug. Before meals, after meals, with food, without food - does it really matter? What about taking arthritis medications with milk, fruit juices, soft drinks, coffee, tea, or plain water in terms of effectiveness or side effects?
Would you consider a glass of orange juice harmful? How and when you take your arthritis medications
is very important to the effectiveness of the drugs. Both your physician and pharmacist will stress the importance of individualizing each medication to your specific needs. Rate of absorption, and effective blood levels, determine efficacy of each medication. This in turn may determine whether it is safe to take on an empty stomach, or after meals, and whether the arthritis medications may be taken with water, milk, fruit juices, coffee, tea, etc. For example, the most commonly prescribed arthritis medications are anti-inflammatories
. These must always be taken with food, and never on an empty stomach. Because these drugs are acids and have been associated with high risk for bleeding gastric ulcers and other gastrointestinal symptoms, it would be unwise to take them with acidic fruit juices or caffeine containing liquids. To summarize, if you want to get the most from your arthritis medicine, and prevent side effects, precisely follow your pharmacists instructions. (Answer provided by the late Dr. Raymond Federman, aka Dr. Bones, who passed away on September 2, 2003. The care of his patients even in retirement was always his joy.)