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If I can't eat or drink the night before my medical procedure, what should I do for my daily medication?


If you take prescription medication every day like blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid, diabetes, depression, or heart medications, it's important that you follow your doctor's directions. Before medical procedures, you should ask your doctor about what to do about your daily medications.

But what if you are having laboratory tests, a procedure, or are scheduled for medical or dental surgery? You may be directed to not eat or drink for a certain period of time before and after. For example, if you are on an aspirin-a-day-regimen to prevent heart attack, you may be told to stop your aspirin product several days before surgery, as aspirin may prevent blood from clotting. Stopping certain medications abruptly is not advised, either, as a patient may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as from antidepressants.

What to do? Communicate with your doctor about your daily medication before and after the medical procedure.

As many as 25% of patients undergoing surgery take a maintenance medication. It's very important to be aware and proactive about managing your regimen when a lab test or surgery is scheduled. Usually, before scheduled tests, procedures, or surgery, doctors or hospitals give the patient a checklist or tip sheet with instructions to follow, but many patients often still have questions.

If that's the case with you, be sure to ask your doctor questions like these:

  • Should I still take all my regular medications before my particular lab test, procedure, or before surgery? (Remember to make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you take - whether oral, topical, or injectable; any prescribed by other doctors you see; as well as over-the-counter drugs. Also, mention any supplements you take, such as nutritional supplements or herbal products.)
  • If I am not supposed to have food or drink the night before or morning of my test/surgery, can I still take my oral medicine with water?
  • If I am an inpatient after surgery, will I still receive my maintenance medication while in the hospital?
  • Will my medication and/or my regimen change as a result of my surgery?
  • Could my regular medication interact with any pain relief medication I may be given after surgery?

If you are scheduled for surgery, be sure to review your complete medication regimen in your preadmission conversations with hospital staff.

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Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.

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