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What Do I Do If I Miss My Diabetes Medicine?

By Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., R.D., C.D.E

(NOTE: The following is provided for information only and does not replace the advice of your health care professional.)

Nobody’s perfect! There will probably come a time when you ask the question, “What do I do if I miss my diabetes medicine?”

03A56410 - smThat happened to Barbara. “I take my medications in the morning. I had been told that if I forgot it in the morning, I should take it when I remembered. But when I actually missed a dose, I realized that I wasn’t clear about what to do if I missed my diabetes medicine. Was it okay to take that medication at lunch instead of at breakfast? So I called the pharmacist.” Barbara was right to ask, and she got an answer that was specific to her diabetes medication.

There are many different types of medications for diabetes, each of which works differently so there’s no rule of thumb about what to do for missed doses. (See chapter 10 of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes). Therefore, whenever you start a new medication, ask your health care provider, pharmacist, or diabetes educator how your medicine works and how to handle delayed or missed medications.

Some diabetes medications can be taken any time because they don’t lower your blood sugars quickly. Your health care professional can tell you what to do if you miss a dose and whether it’s safe to take the medication within a certain number of hours after the missed dose.

Some medications are better tolerated with meals. Ask your provider if it is all right to take these medications at the next meal if you miss a meal or miss a dose.

Some medications can cause low blood sugar if you take them without eating or take too much at one time. Do not take these types of medications without food and never double your dose when you’ve forgotten to take your medication.

If you occasionally forget to take your diabetes medication, you are not alone. You may want to try a simple memory tool such as a weekly pill box. These boxes come with once-a-day, twice-a-day, or three-times-a-day containers where you can place a day’s worth of pills. These pill boxes can also help you remember to check your blood sugar. Simply place an unused lancet with the pills to remind you!

If a high-tech option is more appealing, there are some great smartphone apps that allow you can to set up alarms or text messages to help you remember your medication. (The Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Virtual Coach is based on the Mindful Eating Cycle and has a timer that you can set to remind you to do a Body-Mind-Heart Scan and/or to take your medications.)

If you find that you’re missing doses of your medication regularly, try to figure out why. Is it because the instructions are confusing? Is the dosing regimen too complicated? Are you having trouble affording your medications? Are you feeling distracted or overwhelmed? Work with your health care professionals to explore solutions and options.

Having a clear plan is the best way to handle the all-too-human circumstance of a delayed or missed medication.

You may also be interested in reading What Do I Do If I Took Too Much Diabetes Medicine?

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About the author

Megrette Fletcher is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, author, and co-founder of The Center for Mindful Eating. Megrette is the 2013-2014 president of The Center for Mindful Eating, a non-profit, organization to assist health professionals to explore the concepts of mindful eating. She has written articles for and has been quoted about mindful eating in Diabetes Self Management, Today’s Dietitian, Today’s Social Worker, Bariatric Times, Glamour, Family Circle, The Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, Women’s Day, and Oxygen Magazine. Megrette currently works as a diabetes educator in Dover, New Hampshire.

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