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Taking Medications in Different Time Zones

If your travel plans involve crossing different time zones, there are a lot of things you need to take into account, not least of all, your medication.

Hopefully, before you leave the UK, you will have a good routine for taking your medicines. For example, if you have an everyday tablet-load you have to take, it's likely that you'll take it at around the same time every day. Maybe you've set an alarm on your phone to remind you, or written it on a post-it note and stuck it on the bathroom mirror - everyone has their own little ways of doing things, but what happens when our routine is disrupted and we have no idea what time it is back at home or when to take our medication?

First thing is first - plan ahead before you leave and make sure you have enough medication. Always carry extra supplies on your person (in your hand luggage usually works). This will always help to minimise the risk of getting them lost or stolen. Carry a copy of your prescription or make sure you have a letter from your doctor which clearly states the medicines that you need for a long-term medical condition. It's worth noting down the original scientific name of the medicine too, as brand names may vary country to country.

If you take your medication at a set time every day in the UK, it can be difficult to adjust to a different time zone. For example, if you take your medication at 7am every morning - the exact same time could be 4pm in your destination country. There are loads of ways to make sure you take your medicines at the right time.

If you can, make sure that you take your medications at the same time as you would when you were back home. So, taking our example situation, if you used to take your medication at 7am every morning but 7am in your destination is actually 4pm... take it at 4pm.

However, it might be easier (and less disruptive to your routine when you return home) to take it at 7am in the destination you are in. You might find that you're going to end up taking two doses of medication closer together than you normally would, or having a much longer gap between does than usual. Double check your medication or with your GP to ensure that you and your medication are able to do this.

If you plan on travelling frequently within time zones, make sure you ask your pharmacist for advice on what to do to prevent the risk of resistance or to ensure methods of taking your medication on time.

Another thing to make sure of - jet lag has a nasty way of making sure you don't take you medicine at the right time, especially when you usually take it after waking up. Set an alarm or do whatever it takes to make sure you don't miss doses. Some phones allow you to create alarms which go off precisely every three or six or twelve hours, meaning you don't have to constantly work it out.

As travelling for long periods can often leave you completely disorientated in terms of time, it's a good idea to jot down the time showing on your phone or watch every time you take a dose of medicine.

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