Tempted to take expired medications? Here is what you need to know | WJMN


(NEXSTAR) – Fall is here, and that means cold and flu season too. You never know when you might go to your medicine cabinet to see what you have on hand to relieve your stuffy nose or sore throat.

When digging through there trying to find something that will open up your nasal passages, there’s a good chance you’ll come across a box of decongestants or a bottle of cough syrup. You can even have throat lozenges hidden behind the back.

However, before you take a pill or take a teaspoon of any medicine, you should make sure that it has not expired.

The United States Food and Drug Administration says that the chemical makeup of drugs can change once they expire or they may decrease in strength, making them less effective or even risky to use.

“Some expired drugs pose a risk for bacterial growth, and underpowered antibiotics may not treat infections, leading to more serious illness and antibiotic resistance,” the FDA said. “Once the expiry date has passed, there is no guarantee that the medicine will be safe and effective. If your medicine has expired, do not use it.

The FDA began requiring an expiration date for prescription and over-the-counter drugs in 1979. The date is usually printed on the label or stamped on the vial or box, sometimes after “EXP.”

Appropriate disposal

If you come across outdated medications, don’t be tempted to take them. Throw them out, but be sure to do it responsibly.

Failure to properly dispose of old medications – especially opioids – could end up in the wrong hands, such as children or pets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50,000 children are taken to the emergency room each year because they were able to access old drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration recommends returning expired drugs to a drug take-back program. The DEA says that the unwanted drug flush should only be done when the label or accompanying patient information indicates so. The FDA also provides a list of drugs that can be flushed out for disposal.

The DEA also suggests removing old medications from their original containers, mixing them with something “unwanted” like old coffee grounds or kitty litter, and putting the mixture in a disposable container. sealable before throwing them in the trash. You should also hide or remove any personal information, including your prescription number, on empty drug containers before you throw them away.

Appropriate storage

To keep your medications safe and effective until their expiration date, be sure to follow the storage instructions on the label.

Some medicines need to be refrigerated, for example. However, most medications should be stored in a cool, dry place away from moisture or heat sources, such as a hot sink or appliance.

Other products also expire

Medications aren’t the only products that expire.

You may not know it, but bleach can indeed go wrong. In fact, bleach only retains its disinfectant power for about six months when stored in places with temperatures of 50 to 70 degrees. Likewise, laundry detergent also loses some of its effectiveness after a certain date.

Makeup expiration dates are guidelines after opening the product, but generally most unopened sealed makeup can last two to three years if stored properly. And sunscreens are required by the FDA to remain at their original strengths for at least three years.

Incidentally, some foods can still be eaten after their expiration date. Date labeling for foods is not regulated by the federal government, except for infant formula. According to Consumer Reports, the “best if used by,” “sell before” and “use before” labels are often a manufacturer’s “best guess” about food freshness.


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