What should I do if I miss a dose of antibiotics?

Antibiotics are usually taken between one and four times a day. Your doses should ideally be equally spaced throughout the day and taken at the same times each day. This helps to maintain a constant level of medication in your bloodstream.

One missed dose

In most cases, you should not double the next dose if you have missed one dose of antibiotic. Take your missed dose as soon as you remember or, if it is nearly time for your next dose, skip your missed dose altogether. Taking a double dose of antibiotics will  increase your risk of getting side effects.

Always refer to the patient information leaflet (PIL) that comes with your antibiotics, as it provides information and advice about the specific antibiotic you are taking.

The PIL will include the manufacturer's advice about what to do if you miss a dose of antibiotics. Ask your pharmacist for a PIL if you haven't been given one with your medicine.

Several missed doses

Contact your GP for advice if you have missed several doses of antibiotics or more than one day's worth of treatment. It's very important that you see your GP if you have missed doses because of side effects or illness.

Remembering to take your antibiotics

If you find it difficult to remember to take your antibiotics, you may find some of the ideas below useful:

  • combine taking your antibiotics with another daily activity, such as brushing your teeth or having a meal, but check whether your medication needs to be taken before or after eating
  • after taking each dose, make a note in your diary or on your calendar
  • set an alarm to remind you when your next dose is due

If you're still finding it difficult to remember to take your antibiotics, ask your pharmacist or GP about "compliance aids". These are boxes with labelled compartments that you can put your medicines in. They can help remind you to take your antibiotics at specific times of the day or on particular days of the week.

Always finish a course of antibiotics

You should always finish a course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better. If you don't finish the course or if you miss several doses, the infection may return.

Never keep antibiotics you have taken in the past with a view to using them again if you're unwell in the future.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 01/05/2013

Next review due: 30/04/2015