Why It’s Important to Understand the Half Life and Duration of Drugs

Why It’s Important to Understand the Half Life and Duration of Drugs | HealthSoul

Have you ever wondered why your doctor doesn’t just jot down a list of meds you need to buy and let you take them anytime of the day? Rather, he would give you a list of meds with complete instructions on how many times a day you should take them, how long would be the intervals and for how many days, weeks or months you should be able to complete your medication. Read this article that highlights the importance of taking your medications as prescribed. 

If you’re not specializing with any medical-related discipline, you might not be fully knowledgeable about the reasons behind those very specific instructions though you’re aware that there are explanations regarding that for sure. One of the main reasons is the half-life of drugs.

What the Half Life of Drugs Means

That sounds a lot like a medical jargon. Well, it really is. So, before we discuss what’s the importance of understanding how it works, we should first define what the half-life of medicines means. Basically, it refers to how long it would take for half of the dose of the medicine to be metabolized in your body and removed from your bloodstream.

In simple words, that would exactly mean for how long its effects would last in your body. After its half-life, its potency will continue to wane until it completely disappears, so you would need to take another to reap the desired benefits. Learn more here: https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-the-Half-Life-of-a-Drug.aspx

This is why you probably heard your doctor say: Take this medicine every eight hours per day until the symptoms subside. Referring to that example, after eight hours is probably the time its effects have greatly diminished or it’s possibly the time when it has been flushed out of your system. Of course, each medicine would have its own half-life, either short or long.

It is also good to note that this is only an estimate of its duration in the body and how the body would metabolize a certain medicine would still depend on various health factors, specifically, how the liver and kidneys of a certain individual function. We know too well that these two organs play vital roles in metabolizing the medications that we take and in filtering out the blood.

As mentioned, there are two main kinds of a drug’s half-life. Basically, that’s either short or long half-life. It literally means that a drug with short duration would only last, say, three to four hours in your bloodstream, so after that, you would need to take another pill to experience the same benefits. On the other hand, those with an eight-hour duration and above are considered medicines with a long half-life.

The main difference between the two is that drugs with short half-lives take action quickly but wear off quickly as well, while those with longer half-lives may take a while to effect but stay longer as well in the body. Because short duration drugs wear off quickly, people might tend to abuse them, binge-taking them to prolong the desired effects. Whereas, you don’t need to take another dose of long half-life meds several times a day because their effects don’t wear off quickly.

Why it Matters

Understanding this is important not just to medical practitioners but to patients taking medications as well. For example, patients would appreciate the importance of strictly following the physician’s instructions on how, when and for how long you should take the medication. This is particularly crucial to those who are taking nootropics.

For example, there are individuals who have positive experiences with Provigil with no adverse effects at all, but there are also those who complain about disturbed sleep, messed sleep patterns, headaches and insomnia. What went wrong? One factor that can gauge whether you’ll experience these adverse effects or not is how long Provigil lasts in your body.

Provigil, a brand of Modafinil, is originally a drug that is prescribed to individuals who suffer from narcolepsy or excessive sleepiness, shift work sleep disorder and obstructive sleep apnea. Once it takes effect, it promotes wakefulness, sharp focus and other important cognitive functions to carry out daily activities normally.

It is categorized as a long half-life drug having a duration of eight hours. Thus, a single dose is enough since it’s long-acting. That said, the time when you would take it is crucial. You need to determine which period of the day would you like to achieve your most wakeful and attentive state. Is it during the day or night? If you have a 9-5 job in the day, of course, the best time to take it is in the morning before you head to work.

Taking it late in the afternoon won’t be beneficial if you need sound and restful sleep in the night. Remember, it would take a minimum of eight hours for it to wear off from your system. Taking it during the wrong time of the day is probably the reason why some individuals complain about adverse effects including insomnia, headaches and disturbed sleep patterns.

One can easily avoid experiencing these side effects by thoroughly understanding the duration of drugs in the body. However, half-lives of medicines aren’t determined solely through a constant definition of its particular duration in the bloodstream. It is only an estimate. There are other factors that would determine for how long its effects would last in your body including your age, weight, metabolism, genetics and health issues. And so, this can vary from person to person.

Another reason why it matters is that it is one of the things that doctors base on to determine when you should stop taking the medicine. Stopping it altogether before the ideal time can bring about inconvenient withdrawal symptoms. Whereas, taking it longer than the ideal time might do more harm than good and might even cause drug dependence. Find out more about the symptoms of drug dependence on this reference.

Some patients think that it is better to leave medical jargons to their physician’s expertise and knowledge because they wouldn’t understand it anyway. Besides, it’s not their specialization. However, becoming a more informed patient provides many advantages. For example, it compels us to take our medications as prescribed. That said, we can benefit more fully in the treatment. After all, it’s our main responsibility to take care of our health. Medical practitioners are just there to help.