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My Doctor's Prescription: 4 Times-a-Day or Every 6 Hours?

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Updated April 28, 2014

Question: My Doctor's Prescription: 4 Times-a-Day or Every 6 Hours?
A question for Dr. Mike from a reader: When the dose of a medication is 4 times a day, does this mean 4 times over the 24 hours (that is, do I have to wake up in the middle of the night to take my medication) or 4 times over the "wake hours"?
Answer:

Thanks for writing. An interesting question that I bet a lot of people think about when they get a prescription.

Without knowing the medication you are taking or the condition that is being treated, it is difficult for me to be precise. However, it depends on how your doctor wrote the prescription. If she wrote to take your medication "qid," then that means 4 times a day spread over the waking hours. If she wanted you to take the medication every six hours, then she would have written "q6h."

Your pharmacist interprets these notations and provides the directions on the bottle. If you need a more exact answer, speak with your pharmacist; he knows how the medication should be used and what your doctor ordered.

More Information About Prescriptions:

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Drugs
  4. Medication ABCs
  5. FAQs About Your Drugs
  6. Prescriptions - QID and Q6H Abbreviations Definition

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