Does Your Medicine Cabinet Need a Clean-Out? The Dangers of Taking Expired Pills

Does Your Medicine Cabinet Need a Clean-Out? The Dangers of Taking Expired Pills

Most of us have a medicine cabinet or drawer in our homes where we store our over-the-counter and prescription medication. However, how often do we take the time to check the expiration dates of these medications and properly dispose of any that have expired?

Much like the gentleman in the picture, managing multiple medications can feel overwhelming at times. But taking expired medication can be dangerous to our health and can put us at risk for a variety of negative side effects. Sounds scary? Read on to learn the importance of understanding expiration dates, the risks of taking expired medication, and the right way to get rid of outdated pills.


Understanding Expiration Dates

Expiration dates on medication are put in place by the manufacturer to ensure that the medication is safe to use and will be effective in treating the intended condition. These dates are determined by various factors such as the stability of the active ingredients, the storage conditions, and the length of time the medication can remain effective.

It's important to note that just because a medication has expired, it does not mean that it has become harmful or ineffective. However, expired medication may be less effective or even ineffective, as the active ingredients may have degraded over time.


The Risks of Taking Expired Tablets

Taking expired medication can pose a risk to your health. As the active ingredients in the medication degrade over time, the medication may become less effective in treating the intended condition. In some cases, taking expired medication can also cause side effects or allergic reactions.


Expired medication may also lose its potency over time, meaning that the active ingredients may not be as strong as they were when the medication was first manufactured. This can lead to the medication being less effective in treating the intended condition, or even completely ineffective. Rarely, expired medication may become contaminated with bacteria or other microorganisms – especially if the packaging is breaking down. This can happen if the tablets are stored in an environment that is not clean or if the tablets are not stored properly.


It is important to remember that expired medication should be avoided whenever possible. If you are unsure whether a medication tablet is expired, it is best to check the expiration date or consult your pharmacist for advice


How to Check for Expired Tablets

Checking for expired tablets in your medicine cabinet is an important step in ensuring your safety and well-being. Here are some tips to help you identify expired tablets:
  • Check the expiration date: The expiration date is typically printed on the packaging of the medication or on the tablet bottle. It is important to check the expiration date and discard any tablets that have expired.
  • Look for physical changes: Expired tablets may appear different from fresh tablets. They may be discoloured, have a different shape, or have a different texture. If you notice any physical changes in your tablets, it is best to discard them.
  • Check the storage conditions: Medication tablets should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct light and heat. If you notice that the tablets have been stored in a warm or humid environment, they may have expired.


Properly Disposing of Expired Tablets

Proper disposal of expired tablets is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of yourself and others. For disposing of expired tablets:
  • Take expired tablets to a medication take-back program or follow the instructions on the packaging for disposal.
  • Never flush medication tablets down the toilet or throw them in the trash. This can be dangerous to the environment and may lead to contamination of water sources.


That’s better.

Now that your medicine cabinet is clean and organised, you can rest easy knowing you’re back on track with your medications.


Have your tablets expired before you could remember to take them? Why not check out our Top 5 Tips For Remembering To Take Your Medications.

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