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AARP Bulletin

Timing When to Take Your Daily Medications

Some drugs are best used in the morning, others should be taken in the evening or right before going to bed. Here, advice for 7 common meds

Rheumatoid arthritis

The immune system component that normally attacks foreign bacteria and viruses mistakenly attacks cells lining the joints, causing swelling, stiffness and pain. Symptoms tend to be at their worst in the morning.

When to take medicine: Take RA medicines in the evening or at night.

Here's why: Taking aspirin and other NSAIDs with dinner or before bed produces better relief than taking the same meds in the morning. A new low-dose modified-relief corticosteroid is meant to be taken at bedtime, so the highest concentration, midway through sleep, effectively inhibits production of substances called cytokines, which trigger morning symptoms.

Hay fever

An overreaction of the immune system triggers the watery and itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing and stuffy nose of hay fever. Blame histamine, a chemical released by the immune system after exposure to pollen.

When to take medicine: Antihistamines, which block the action of histamine, are the most common remedy for hay fever. Take once-a-day antihistamines in the evening. Take twice-a-day antihistamines morning and evening. Otherwise follow label directions, taking at least one dose in the evening.

Here's why: Hay fever typically worsens at night and is most severe in the morning, when histamine levels are highest. Once-daily antihistamines reach their peak 12 hours after taking them, so evening use produces better control of morning symptoms.

Nissa Simon is a freelance health and science writer.

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