"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Stop using the medication cabinet. Oh, and now clear it out

January 24, 2024 – If old bottles of prescription medications and over-the-counter painkillers are gathering dust behind your bathroom mirror, you're not alone. However, it's necessary to take stock of what medications you will have, what you may do away with, and how one can store and eliminate your pills fastidiously.

Let's start with the fundamentals: Despite the name, you shouldn't keep your pills in the toilet medicine cabinet. There are two predominant reasons for this, experts say.

First, medicine cabinets are typically situated in bathrooms. There can be a variety of humidity and high temperatures. According to the CDCStoring medications in locations where the temperature fluctuates incessantly and humidity is high has been shown to cause medications to interrupt down more quickly.

The second reason to hold your pills is that usually anyone you share your private home with can easily get to your medicine cabinet. If you need to keep medications from entering into the hands of young children, people combating drug problems, or teenagers with mental health issues, even a kitchen cabinet is probably not the perfect place to store pills. And Studiesshow that almost all household medicines will not be stored properly.

When Suzanne Robotti was a toddler, her younger sister loved climbing. One day she walked into the kitchen and saw that her then five-year-old sister had climbed onto the counter and located the newborn aspirin.

Robotti, founding father of the MedShadow Foundation, a drug safety organization, and a consumer representative on the FDA's Drug Safety and Risk Management Committee, babbled, and her mother rushed her sister to the hospital.

“They had to pump her stomach because she had actually eaten an entire bottle of baby aspirin, which could have seriously damaged her kidneys and liver,” she said.

“It sounds crazy, but there are people who keep their medications under lock and key, just like you would a gun. They are just as dangerous as a gun in the wrong hands.”

When do medications actually expire?

Most pill bottles have a best-before date of roughly one 12 months from receipt. This just isn't the case all over the place, especially not with all prescription medications.

“It’s a bit like the milk you get; “It’s probably still good shortly after the expiration date,” said Dr. Maryann Amirshahi, toxicologist, emergency physician and co-director of the National Capital Poison Center.

“There is nothing magical about the day it expires. However, you don’t want to leave it there for much longer,” she said.

Whether or not the drug has already passed its prime by the date indicated on the packaging depends largely on the way it was stored. It also is dependent upon what situation you're in, said Joe Graedon, a pharmacologist and co-host of the national call-in radio show “The People's Pharmacy.”

“If you're in a situation that's not that critical – maybe you need a sleeping pill or an allergy medication – and you have a medication that's a week, a month or even a few months out of date, then that's it “It probably didn’t turn out bad,” he said.

But in case you end up in a situation where the medication is totally crucial has to work – for instance, if you will have an infection and want an antibiotic or someone needs an EpiPen – you then shouldn't risk it.

There's a scenario Amirshahi sees incessantly at work, each on the poison control center and within the emergency room. Patients say they'd an antibiotic lying across the house resulting from a previous infection and decided to take it for his or her current ailment.

Here's why this can be a problem: If you're prescribed an antibiotic, it's best to finish it to ensure that you do away with the infection completely Avoid resistancesaid Amirshahi. There are also different antibiotics used for various infections; A prescription you previously received for a urinary tract infection just isn't the identical one you'll receive for a sinus infection. Finally, the old antibiotic could also be long gone its expiration date, making it far less effective.

What do I do with my old medication?

For many medications, simply throwing the bottle within the trash isn't the perfect practice. The best solution to eliminate old prescriptions is to reap the benefits of take-back programs offered nationwide. The FDA has one resource This will assist you find local Drug Enforcement Administration-registered take-back locations. Many pharmacies also accept old medications and eliminate them safely.

If that doesn't be just right for you, Amirshahi has one other solution.

“With most medications, you can actually put them in kitty litter or coffee grounds before throwing them away – something gross – so people aren't tempted to take them,” she said. “They want to make them completely inedible.”

Whatever you do, don't flush medications down the bathroom. Research has shown that this results in a increased concentration of medicines into the water supply and harms the aquatic fauna.