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Can You Take Expired Cold And Flu Medicine

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VERIFY: No, you shouldn’t take expired cold medicine

Proper storage is one way to help make sure your medicines will remain safe and effective up to their expiration date. Be sure to read the label to see if there are specific storage instructions for your medicine. Certain medicines need to be stored in the refrigerator and others cannot be exposed to high temperatures. Improper storage such as a damp bathroom cabinet can contribute to decreased effectiveness in medicines that have not reached their posted expiration date. For most medicines, to help ensure the proper shelf life of your medicine, it is better to store medicine in a cool, dry place such as a dresser drawer, storage box, closet shelf, or kitchen cabinet.

When storing medicine in a kitchen cabinet make sure that it is away from hot appliances and the sink due to changing temperatures and humidity, which can affect the medicine. When storing medicine in a high traffic area, like a kitchen, care should be taken to prevent access by children at risk of accidental poisoning or others who may be tempted to take for abuse/misuse.

Remember to store medicines properly and dont use expired medicines — its not worth the risk!

Is It Safe To Take Expired Drugs

Its flu season, and the only bottle of cough syrup in your cabinet is one that expired in 2012. Is it safe to take, or should you brave the cold to get a fresh supply at the pharmacy? In general, expired drugs arent likely to kill you, but there are some things you should know.Image via Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH .

You should talk to your doctor if you have a question about a specific medication, of course. And we certainly arent going to recommend taking something that says on its package you should not take it. But you may be happy to know old pills dont go bad in the same way food does. They can, however, become less effective over time.

There was one case of people getting sick from expired antibiotics, back in the 1960s. Three patients developed a kidney disease, and recovered. Aside from that, expired medications havent been linked to any dangerous conditions.

Instead, these medications go bad in more subtle ways. The active ingredient might break down slowly over time, so that a drug thats past its expiration date might not be 100 per cent effective. The US Food and Drug Administration describes the time before the expiration date as the time you can expect the drug to retain its identity, strength, quality and purity.

Go Through Your Medicine Cabinet Once A Year

The American Medical Association recommends cleaning out your medicine cabinet once a year. It may be tempting, if you’re the organized type, to decant frequently used drugs into labeled, matching bottles, but don’tkeeping pills in their original containers guards against confusion and is thus safer, says Negrete. However, do take those cotton balls out of bottles they hasten decomposition.

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What To Do With Expired Meds

First, read the medicines label and follow any specific disposal instructions that may be included. A drug take-back program, if available, is the preferred way to dispose of expired, unwanted, or unused medicine. For example, the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, coordinated by the DEA, addresses a vital public safety and public health issue by focusing attention on this important issue and reminding everyone to get rid of unneeded and outdated medicines. Through this important program many tons of unneeded and out-date drugs have been removed for proper disposal.

When drug take-back programs arent available, federal guidelines recommend throwing the medicines away in the household trash after mixing them with a substance like dirt or kitty litter and then sealing the mixture in a container . However, certain medicines are specifically recommended for flushing down a toilet or sink because they could be especially harmful, even fatal, to a child, pet, or anyone else if taken accidentally. For a list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing, as well as other information on proper disposal, please see the Disposal of Unused Medicines page.

Because Probiotics Are Alive It’s Best To Use Them As Soon As Possible

Can You Take Expired Antibiotics? Heres When You Can!

Because probiotics are alive, they can become far less effective over time or if they’re improperly stored.

“Probiotics are living bacteria and will be subject to inactivity over time. It’s best to them discard based on the manufacturer’s guideline, which is usually one year,” Langdon said.

To keep your probiotics fresh and effective, store them in a cool place away from sunlight. Some probiotics should be kept in the refrigerator.

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Dont Give Cough And Cold Medications To Infants Or Young Children

Although over-the-counter medication for colds and flu are popular, that doesnt mean they work, especially for children. In January 2008, the Food and Drug Administration advised parents that OTC cough and cold medications should not be given to children under the age of two because of the potential risks. Following this announcement, manufacturers of these products changed their warning labels to say they should not be given to children under age four.

Both decisions were the result of criticisms by influential doctors and medical associations, protesting the marketing and widespread use of OTC pediatric cough and cold medications for young children under the age of six. However, when experts had previously been asked by the FDA to provide advice about these medications, the experts had concluded that there was no good evidence that these medications work for children under the age of 12.

We agree with the doctors and medical associations that asked that the FDA require studies of the effects and safety of these medications in young children a public education campaign to inform parents of the lack of evidence for use of OTC cough and cold medications in young children and labeling to make it clear to consumers that these products have not been found safe or effective in young children.

Do Written Prescriptions Expire

When your healthcare provider sends in a prescription to your pharmacy, you usually have up to one year to fill the prescription before it expires in most states. The exception to this is prescriptions for controlled substances, which may not be valid after 6 months or less, depending on state laws.

If you try to fill a prescription that has expired, your pharmacy will tell you that you will need a new prescription from your provider to fill the medication. They can often request a new prescription from your provider on your behalf, especially for routine medications.

Prescription expiration dates are based on state and federal laws and are different from manufacturer expiration dates, which reflect how long a medication is guaranteed to be safe and effective. Sometimes, the medication inside your prescription vial may still be good after the prescription is no longer valid to refill. Ask your pharmacist where on your prescription label the manufacturer expiration date is, so you can be sure it is safe to keep taking it.

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Q: Is It Ok To Use Medications Past Their Expiration Dates

My wife and I have this argument several times a year. I discover some perfectly good food of uncertain age in the refrigerator. She wants to throw it away better safe than sorry! I say if the color looks right, it smells like food, and tastes alright, we should eat it. And with that another perfectly good pasta dish is tossed out.

We have similar discussions about expired medications. I’d heard medications were often safe and effective well past their expiration date she’s ready to throw them out if they’re even close to the date on the bottle.

Antibiotics Should Be Used Immediately As Prescribed But Most Can Last At Least A Year

What Cold Flu Medicine Should I Take? | A Doctor Answers

Most prescribed antibiotics are suitable for one year.

“Almost all antibiotics are prescribed for a full course, and therefore there should not be any leftovers,” Langdon said. “In the case of daily or chronic use, one year from dispensing is the safe expiration date.”

Liquid antibiotics need to be reconstituted after the expiration date the pharmacist gives, so they should be used immediately.

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How To Properly Dispose Of Expired Medications

If you do have expired medication, there are several ways you can dispose of it. If you still have the label information that came with the medication, you can look for specific instructions the manufacturer may have provided about how to dispose of it safely. However, not all medications have this information included.

According to the FDA, disposing of your medications at a drug take-back location is the safest way to get rid of old medications. Many health systems, police departments, and community pharmacies offer unused medication drop boxes where you can simply place any medications to be disposed of in the bin.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration sponsors National Drug Take-Back Days, where extra drop-off locations are available twice a year to dispose of unwanted medications. These take-back days typically happen at the end of April and October. You can search for a year-round medication disposal location near you on the DEA website.

If youre not able to discard your medications at a take-back location, there are still ways you can safely get rid of them. To dispose of medications in the trash, the FDA recommends mixing them with an undesirable substance like kitty litter, dirt, or used coffee grounds, sealing the mixture in a bag, and throwing the sealed bag in the trash. Do not crush tablets or open capsules before mixing them with the dirt, kitty litter, or other substance.

What Does A Medicines Expiration Date Mean

Drug manufacturers are required to stamp an expiration date on their products. On over-the-counter medicines, the expiration date is often printed on the label or carton under “EXP” or stamped without ink into the bottom of a bottle, carton, or the crimp of a tube.

But what does the expiration date mean? Is a medicine still safe to take after its expiration date?Will it cause harm or just not work after its expiration date?

Neither fully explains what the expiration date means. Actually, it’s the date up until which the drug manufacturer can guarantee that the medicine is fully potent and safe to take based on product testing. Expiration dates are typically conservative to make sure you get what you paid fora fully potent and safe medicine.

According to the FDA, expired medical products can be less effective and pose a risk to the patient due to changes in chemical composition in the medication over time. Once the expiration date has passed, there is no guarantee that the medication is safe and effective. It is important to go through your medicine cabinet and discard expired medications. For proper disposal refer to Discarding Medicines Safely section.

Lastly, keep medicine in a cool, dry place away from light, such as a dresser drawer, closet shelf, or kitchen cabinet. Storing medicine improperly- in a damp bathroom cabinet- can cause medicine to be less effective before reaching the expiration date.


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Research Suggests That Many Medications Are Still Safe And Effective Yearsor Sometimes Even Decadesafter The Expiration Date

Heres news that may save you money. You can often still use medication even past the expiration datesometimes for years. According to several reports, including a report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, EpiPens retain most of their potency well past those expiration dates. And if you think thats surprising, check out why your pharmacist actually knows more than your doctor.

Treating The Cold Or Flu When You Have Covid

Unused, expired medicine can be disposed of Saturday

By Keri Wiginton

Its possible to catch more than one respiratory virus at the same time. That means you could get a cold or the flu along with COVID-19. But so far, these coinfections havent happened enough for scientists to study them very much. Experts think thats due to all the physical distancing and other safety measures we took to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Theres some evidence your immune system might protect you from viral coinfections. But we need more research to know if thatll happen with COVID-19.

Ellen Foxman, MD, PhD, an immunobiologist with Yale Medicine and assistant professor of laboratory medicine and immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine, says it doesnt matter if you get the rhinovirus — the main cause of the common cold — or the viruses that cause flu or COVID-19.

Within a few days, your body turns on a really rapid antiviral defense system that protects against all viruses.

That means your odds of a second virus most likely go down shortly after you get the first one.

There was a huge drop in cold and flu illnesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In turn, that lowered the chances of coinfections. Though, Foxman says this year might be different. If schools and workplaces reopen and there is less use of masks and social distancing, we are likely to see more flu, and this may include some flu and COVID-19 coinfections.

If you do get sick, here are some expert tips on how to get well.

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Is It Ok To Take Expired Drugs

This article was published more than 9 years ago. Some information may no longer be current.


The question: I took an expired Tylenol for a headache last night and now Im worried about the potential side effects? Should I be worried?

The answer: Its frustrating when you reach into your medicine cabinet for help relieving your headache, pain or fever, and youre either out of medication or its expired.

Its not uncommon to accidentally ingest expired medication, but not to fear: In general, most of them are not toxic when expired, but they can lose their effectiveness over time. So, in all likelihood, you havent done yourself harm but you may not be getting the pain relief you were looking for.

Expiry dates are determined and marked on each bottle by the drug maker. When the drug is made, the time it takes to break down is determined. Drug makers guarantee that if their product is used within the shelf life, it will work to its maximum potency and safety.

This being said, even when medication passes its shelf life, it remains partially effective but quantifying when and how fast the potency decreases is difficult.

The bottom line: Expiry dates are a conservative measure to make sure youre using medication of the highest potency possible. When youre unwell and all you want to do is feel better quickly, taking something that you know will work is key, instead of worrying whether its still good or not.

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Regularly Replace Eye Drops

Any product that comes in contact with the eyes, such as drops or mists, should be replaced as soon as they expire.

“Aerosol products may get contaminated over time,” Langdon said. “Eyes are especially susceptible to bacterial contamination.”

Though it’s safe to keep eye drops that have not expired, you should take special care to keep the packaging clean.

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Is It Safe To Take Expired Nyquil

There is no way to know if expired NyQuil will be safe or effective for you to take past the expiration date. This is due to a variety of factors that can affect drug stability like heat, humidity, or light. Purchase a new bottle of NyQuil if your current bottle is past its expiration date.

If your NyQuil looks cloudy, discolored , contains any floating particles, or has an unusual odor do not use the product. In addition, some NyQuil Liquid products may undergo evaporation of the alcohol solvent.

What Is A Medicines Shelf Life

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All medications contain active and inactive ingredients. Even more specifically, certain ingredients determine how effective the remedy is in treating a medical condition. These ingredients also determine how long the medicine can be stored without deteriorating. When pharmaceutical companies develop a drug, they specify the medications shelf life, which is the time period for which the medication can be used without deterioration. In other words, the shelf life is the time for which the medicine will work safely and as expected.

The shelf life, therefore, indicates the lifespan of a medication. Please note that drug manufacturers have no financial incentive to prolong the shelf life. Also, it is expensive to test how long medication can remain stable . Manufacturers are, therefore, permitted to choose an arbitrary time frame to test the stability of a drug and stamp the expiration date on the bottle accordingly.

With that being said, a medications true shelf life is never truly tested, simply because its not worth doing so. The actual shelf life of medications may therefore be longer than indicated by the expiration date. However, some medications have been proven to deteriorate over time, and these medicines should never be taken past their expiration dates .

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What Medications Are Unsafe After The Expiration Date

Some medications are simply ineffective after their expiration. Others, like these, are harmful.

  • Tetracycline and doxycycline: These antibiotics become hazardous with time, Rauch says. Tetracycline in particular is known to cause kidney damage after the use-by date.
  • Supplements: These arent regulated as well as FDA-approved medication, Dr. Supe says, so be more safe than sorry and avoid taking them if theyre expired.
  • Eye drops: Expired eye drops lose their pH balance and can end up burning your eyes, Dr. Supe says.
  • Injectable/IV drugs: This is mostly a concern in hospitals, but Dr. Vogel says patients will never receive expired medicine in a medical facility.

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