The first day of spring is coming up quickly – March 21. So now is great time to think about spring cleaning, and really organizing your closet, clearing out the garage, etc. Food for thought: What about spring cleaning your medicine cabinet? Much worse than simply holding on to a sweater you no longer wear, consuming old and expired medicine can make you sick or worse. The Aero Jet Medical team knows the importance of making sure that all of the medicine you take is current, and suggests these tips for giving a thorough spring cleaning to your medicine cabinet.
Prescription medications can have two different expiration dates printed on the bottle. The first is from the manufacturer, and then the second is from the pharmacist. According to Pediatrics for Parents, the manufacturer’s expiration date means that “the medicine is guaranteed to maintain its potency until at least that date, as long as it’s stored properly and left in its original container.” While the date the pharmacists puts on the packaging is typically an expiration of about a year from purchase.
Pediatrics for Parents also emphasizes that liquid medications have a different time frame. Since these are mixed by the pharmacists from what was shipped as powder, they typically only have a shelf life of a few weeks.
Now what about over-the-counter drugs? Does your Tylenol expire on the day printed on the label? According to The Stir, over-the-counter pills that are swallowed whole are alright to take up to about a year after their expiration date. Philly.com agrees and recommends replacing any over-the-counter medicines that are more than a year or two past the expiration date.
According to Consumer Reports, storing your medicine correctly is just as important as checking expirations. Don’t keep prescription medication in the bathroom where heat and moisture can affect them. Consider keeping prescription medicines in a temperature neutral environment, such as beside your bed or in the kitchen, as long as they are not too close to the stove. According to the Sun-Sentinel, medicine’s shelf life can be prolonged by storing it in the refrigerator.
Now what about getting rid of all of these expired pills? Click on this FDA link to learn tips on safely disposing of medicine, including details on what can be thrown away, and what should be flushed down the toilet or sink.
Most important though, trust your gut. If your medicine looks, tastes or, worst of all, smells off, don’t take a chance by ingesting it. Always err on the side of precaution when it comes to your health!