If we look deeper into our medicine cabinets, we could find many things that need to be thrown away. There could be leftover cough syrup for our toddlers from a couple of years ago and a few Hydrocodone tablets for our root canal from many years ago. It is important find ways to properly dispose them. We should also evaluate the location of our medicine cabinet. In many houses, medicine cabinets are located in the humid bathroom. It is actually a bad place to store our medicine. They humidity and hot steam from our shower and sink will result in moisture build-up inside the medicine cabinet. This will cause drugs, especially in already opened containers to degrade faster.
Storage instruction for drugs is quite clear. We should store them in dry and cool areas; without direct exposure to sunlight. Medicine cabinets in bathroom are stored in cool areas and there’s no direct sun exposure; but it is obviously not a dry environment. Some drugs may require refrigeration and they are stored in special containers to prevent humidity from seeping in. In this case, the bathroom is too warm for these drugs, especially when we use hot water often during winter. Considering this fact, we should immediately assume that drugs stored in bathroom degrade faster and they need to be disposed sooner.
Many of us take leftover prescription medicine in our medicine cabinet. In many cases, expired drugs are not harmful, but their potencies have degraded significantly. If our intention is to avoid another trip to the doctor that costs money and time; we may not get results from old, left over drugs. The problem can be quite serious in the case of antibiotics. When stored beyond their shelf life, antibiotics lose their effectiveness. They won’t be able to completely kill germs and some of the germs that are exposed to the expired antibiotics could develop resistance. It means that when we go to doctor to get new antibiotics; they will have reduced affects.
When using old drugs, it is also likely that we already forget the proper dosage. This could cause drug allergies when we use antibiotics; especially if they are not yet expired and we use too much of them. Some stronger antibiotics need to be taken only once a day, instead of two or three times a day. In this case, we should see the doctor; to make sure that we get the proper medication and treatment. When finding old, left over drugs; we should check their expiration date; which is found on the box. If we don’t find the expiration date, it is better to throw it away, instead of getting unwanted results.
In general, prescription drugs expire one year after they are given to the patient. However, we shouldn’t assume the same thing with liquid drugs that can expire in just a couple of weeks. Even first aid supplies like hydrogen peroxide and adhesive bandages have specific expiration dates.