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First thing’s first… don’t panic!
Every medication may vary but in general terms, you should never double up your dose to make up for a missed dose unless you have been specifically told to do this by your doctor.
If you have missed a dose, it may mean that the drug levels in your body have fallen so that they are no longer therapeutic (doing their job). However, some drugs hang around in the body for a longer period of time, so missing one dose may not affect it so much. Having an extra tablet will not necessarily make up for the missed dose and may just increase the risk of the levels going too high and causing unwanted side effects.
Missing one dose is unlikely to have any serious ramifications. However, if you frequently miss doses, this can be problematic – speak to your doctor or pharmacist about ways to minimise this and to help you remember.
If missing a dose could be particularly detrimental, such as aperson with epilepsy missing their anti-seizure medication or someone at high risk of a stroke missing their anticoagulant (blood thinner), then this was hopefully highlighted to you when you first started the medication as the outcome could be sudden and quite serious (ie, causing a seizure or a stroke).
The customer medicines information (CMI) is a leaflet that is often given to you by your doctor or pharmacist when you start a new medication – it addresses missed doses for that specific medicine. However, the CMI is often quite general. If you have thrown it out or you never received one, ask your pharmacist to print one out for you.
For most medications, if you have missed one dose (it is nearly time for your next dose) just carry on and have your next dose when it’s due (do not take extra to compensate).
If you remember and your next dose is still not due for a few hours, then usually it is okay to take the missed dose when you remember and carry on with your next dose as per usual.
This is not always the case, however, and it will also depend on how frequently you are taking the medication (ie, once a day or five times a day).
There is a fine line between missing a dose and taking too much of the medication in a short period of time. In any case, if you are ever unsure, call your pharmacist for advice.