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When Is It Best to Take Nexium?

To get the best absorption of prescription esomeprazole delayed release capsules, take Nexium at least one hour before any meal,

If you are a conscientious patient, you pay attention to the instructions you may be provided on how to take your medication. Should it be taken with food or on an empty stomach? At equally spaced intervals, or is there a little leeway? These details can be important in determining how well the drug works, but they aren’t always as clear as we’d like. That’s what we discovered from one reader’s question about how to take Nexium.

Rising Early to Take Nexium:

Q. I’ve been on Nexium for several years and it has “cured” Barrett’s esophagus and stomach ulcers. The directions say to take Nexium daily ONE HOUR before a meal. So I have to wake up earlier than I want to take it one hour before breakfast.

The PA at my doctor’s practice says she takes Nexium WITH breakfast. My question: If I eat breakfast (or lunch) two or more hours after taking Nexium, have I lost its benefit? What if I take it only 15 or 30 minutes before breakfast? How important is that ONE hour?

How Important Is That Hour?

A. We are not surprised that you are confused. The official labeling information on prescription esomeprazole  (Nexium) specifies that health professionals advise patients to take Nexium “at least one hour before a meal.”

Over-the-counter Nexium 24HR directs people to “swallow 1 tablet with a glass of water before eating in the morning.” The instructions are ambiguous about how long people should wait before eating.

Taking prescription Nexium with a meal could reduce the amount of medication that gets into your bloodstream by as much as 50 percent. Waiting at least an hour gets around that problem. You could avoid getting up early if you took your acid-suppressing drug an hour or two before lunch or supper. That way you still get the maximum absorption.

There may also be other approaches you could take to help control your ulcers. You’ll learn about some of them in our Guide to Digestive Disorders.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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