X

Enter to win a FREE
Magnetight Mask
from Dr. Brandt!

*By entering to win, you agree to receive future emails from Dr. Brandt.

We Asked A Doc: Is It Ever Okay To Take Expired Medications?

Large Editorial Image


September 28, 2016

It has happened the most vigilant among us: a hacking cough wakes you up at 3 in the morning and, bleary eyed and half asleep, you reach for a bottle of over-the-counter medication. Just as you’re about to attack your symptoms with a tablespoon, you glance at the bottle and realize the medication has expired.

Should you go for it anyway? What’s the worst that could happen? Actually, that all depends on the type of medication.

“If you find an expired medication you should dispose of the medication; that’s the easy answer,” says Dr. Sherry Ross, OB/GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. “There are some medications that can be dangerous, or even fatal, if you consume them once they have gone beyond their expiration date. Medications that can be dangerous once expired include Fentanyl, Morphine Sulfate, Diazepam, Methadone, Acetaminophen and oxycodone to name a few.”

A manufacturer is required to guarantee the safety and potency of a drug up to a certain date, which is is indicated by the expiration date, says Dr. Kristine Arthur, an internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center. If you decide to try your luck after that date, the safety and potency of the medication cannot be guaranteed. Things that can affect this include how the bottle has been stored and when it was first opened.

“In reality many medications last longer than the expiration date when tested–even months or years beyond the date. That being said, it is very difficult to know which medications do last longer,” Arthur says, adding that she tells her patients to discard medications after the expiration date and follows this rule for herself and her family. “There are other factors that make a difference as well including how the bottle is stored: temperature, light, humidity, etc.  Also, if a seal has been broken and a bottle opened that can make a big difference in the shelf life of medications.  Medications that come in tablets and capsules tend to last longer than liquids, particularly ones that have to be refrigerated.”

Life-saving medications should always be up to date, Arthur says. These include medications like epinephrine for severe allergies, nitroglycerin for chest pain, and insulin for diabetes.  “When it comes to vitamins, herbs and other supplements (which may or may not have preservatives) sometimes it comes down to a common sense approach,” Arthur says. :Anything that has changed color or smells odd should be discarded–even if it hasn’t reached its expiration date.”

If you have accidentally ingested an expired headache tablet or other capsule meant to treat a minor ache or pain, Ross says the majority of these medications are safe to take beyond their expiration date, though the potency is not at 100 percent.

In other words: don’t freak out if this has happened to you, but do throw out expired medicine as you go and stock up on fresh OTC medications as needed.

For more health tips, check out the ‘5-second’ rule for eating food off the floor isn’t true and why you should make your bed every morning.

Follow me at @lisacfogarty on Twitter.

 



  • Here's How To Pack Your Swimsuits The RIGHT Way When Traveling

    Here's How To Pack Your Swimsuits The RIGHT Way When Traveling

    Style

    today

  • We Know What Meghan Markle's Wedding Dress Is Going To Look Like!

    We Know What Meghan Markle's Wedding Dress Is Going To Look Like!

    Celebrity

    today

  • Can You Tell Which Bag Is The Gucci Marmont And Which Is The Topshop Look-Alike?

    Can You Tell Which Belt Bag Is Gucci And Which Is Topshop?

    Style

    today

  • Target Casually Just Dropped A New 40-Piece Millennial Furniture Collection

    Target Casually Just Dropped A New 40-Piece Millennial Furniture Collection

    today

  • Cropped Wide Leg Pants Are Actually Really Flattering--Shop Our Faves Now

    Cropped Wide Leg Pants Are Actually Really Flattering--Shop Our Faves Now

    today

  • 10 Trends That Will Be HUGE In 2018 That Are Already In Your Closet

    10 Trends That Will Be HUGE In 2018 That Are Already In Your Closet

    Style

    today

  • Birchbox Just Launched Their Most Instagram-Worthy Box Yet

    Birchbox Just Launched Their Most Instagram-Worthy Box Yet

    today

  • Kate Spade Just Dropped A New Athleisure Collection & The Leggings Look Amazing

    Kate Spade Just Dropped A New Athleisure Collection & The Leggings Look Amazing

    Style

    today

  • 13 Wedding Beauty Trends That Will Be Everywhere In 2018, According To A Makeup Artist

    13 Wedding Beauty Trends That Will Be Everywhere In 2018, According To A Makeup Artist

    Beauty

    today

  • Drop Everything--Walmart Just Started Selling All Of Your Favorite Beauty Products!

    Drop Everything--Walmart Just Started Selling All Of Your Favorite Beauty Products!

    Beauty

    today

  • Once And For All, Here's How To Break In New Shoes

    Once And For All, Here's How To Break In New Shoes

    today

  • PHOTOS: New Balance Pastel Sneakers Are Almost Here & We Want Every Pair

    PHOTOS: New Balance Pastel Sneakers Are Almost Here & We Want Every Pair

    Style

    today

  • 6 Women's Movement T-Shirts That Everyone Should Own

    6 Women's Movement T-Shirts That Everyone Should Own

    Style

    today

  • How Many Times Does Gigi Hadid Have To Wear These Jeans Before You Buy Them?

    How Many Times Does Gigi Hadid Have To Wear These Jeans Before You Buy Them?

    Style

    today

  • Madewell's Spring 2018 Denim Collection Includes Expanded Sizing--They Now Offer Jeans Up To A Size 35!

    Madewell's Spring 2018 Denim Collection Includes Expanded Sizing--They Now Offer Jeans Up To A Size 35!

    Style

    today

  • This Is The Best Chapstick You Can Use, According To A Dermatologist

    This Is The Best Chapstick You Can Use, According To A Dermatologist

    Beauty

    today

  • The One Drugstore Product Everyone Should Start Using Again, According To A Dermatologist

    The One Drugstore Product Everyone Should Start Using Again, According To A Dermatologist

    Beauty

    1 day

  • Bath & Body Works Just Launched An Active Skincare Collection So You Have No Excuse Not To Exercise Now

    Bath & Body Works Just Launched An Active Skincare Collection So You Have No Excuse Not To Exercise Now

    Beauty

    1 day

  • The One Anti-Aging Product Every Woman Should Start Using In 2018, According To A Dermatologist

    The One Anti-Aging Product Every Woman Should Start Using In 2018, According To A Dermatologist

    Beauty

    1 day

  • Keep Warm This Winter With These Stylish Faux Fur Accessories

    Keep Warm This Winter With These Stylish Faux Fur Accessories

    Shop

    1 day

  • The One Bathing Suit That Looks Good On Everyone, According To An Expert

    The One Bathing Suit That Looks Good On Everyone, According To An Expert

    Style

    1 day

  • We Stand With Them: 6 Brands That Have Gone Vegan, Cruelty-Free, and Fur-Free

    We Stand With Them: 6 Brands That Have Gone Vegan, Cruelty-Free, and Fur-Free

    Beauty

    1 day

  • 4 Cheap Foundations That Work Wonders On Dry Skin, According To A Dermatologist

    4 Cheap Foundations That Work Wonders On Dry Skin, According To A Dermatologist

    Beauty

    1 day

  • The Boots Everyone Will Be Wearing This Winter (They're Not Over-The-Knee!)

    The Boots Everyone Will Be Wearing This Winter (They're Not Over-The-Knee!)

    Style

    1 day

  • Amazon Just Made This Insane Change To Its Amazon Prime Monthly Membership

    Amazon Just Made This Insane Change To Its Amazon Prime Monthly Membership

    1 day

  • Target Casually Just Dropped 2 NEW BRANDS This Morning

    Target Casually Just Dropped 2 NEW BRANDS This Morning

    Beauty

    2 days

  • Once And For All, These Are The Best Leggings To Work Out In (And They're Only $25!)

    Once And For All, These Are The Best Leggings To Work Out In (And They're Only $25!)

    Style

    2 days

  • FYI, This $9 Top Looks Good On Every Woman--Get One In Every Color ASAP

    FYI, This $9 Top Looks Good On Every Woman--Get One In Every Color ASAP

    Style

    2 days

  • Psst! Nordstrom Has <em>The Best</em> Fleece Lined Tights... And They're Only $15

    Psst! Nordstrom Has The Best Fleece Lined Tights... And They're Only $15

    Style

    2 days

  • Every Wine Lover Needs This $19 Accessory

    Every Wine Lover Needs This $19 Accessory

    Shop

    3 days

  • The One Piece Of Jewelry Every Cool Girl Wants For Valentine’s Day

    The One Piece Of Jewelry Every Cool Girl Wants For Valentine’s Day

    Style

    3 days

  • The One Product You Should Always Use For Cystic Acne, According To A Dermatologist

    The One Product You Should Always Use For Cystic Acne, According To A Dermatologist

    Beauty

    today

  • The One Product You Should Never Use For Under-Eye Bags, According To An Expert

    The One Product You Should Never Use For Under-Eye Bags, According To An Expert

    Beauty

    today

  • People Are NOT Happy With Victoria Beckham's Latest Campaign Photo

    People Are NOT Happy With Victoria Beckham's Latest Campaign Photo

    Celebrity

    today

  • The One Product You Should Never Use For Blackheads

    The One Product You Should Never Use For Blackheads

    Beauty

    1 day

  • The One Drugstore Anti-Aging Product No One Should Be Using Anymore, According To A Dermatologist

    The One Drugstore Anti-Aging Product No One Should Be Using Anymore, According To A Dermatologist

    Beauty

    1 day

  • This Is The Best Deodorant You Can Use, According To A Dermatologist

    This Is The Best Deodorant You Can Use, According To A Dermatologist

    Beauty

    1 day

  • The One Thing You Should Never Do For Thinning Hair

    The One Thing You Should Never Do For Thinning Hair

    Beauty

    2 days

  • The Real Reason Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie Got Divorced

    The Real Reason Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie Got Divorced

    Celebrity

    3 days

  • The One Drugstore Product No One Should Be Using Anymore, According To A Dermatologist

    The One Drugstore Product No One Should Be Using Anymore, According To A Dermatologist

    Beauty

    3 days

  • Weekend Project: Make Your Own DIY Face Mask

    Weekend Project: Make Your Own DIY Face Mask

    Shop

    4 days

  • Nordstrom's Bestselling $27 Tunic Is Back In Stock--Grab One Quick Before It Sells Out Again

    Nordstrom's Bestselling $27 Tunic Is Back In Stock--Grab One Quick Before It Sells Out Again

    Style

    4 days

  • 5 Common Mistakes That Are Making Your Hair Thin, According To Experts

    5 Common Mistakes That Are Making Your Hair Thin, According To Experts

    Beauty

    4 days

  • These Genius Packing Cubes Are A Game-Changer

    These Genius Packing Cubes Are A Game-Changer

    Shop

    4 days

  • These Are The Best Sites That Give You Cash Or Store Credit For New And Lightly-Worn Clothes

    These Are The Best Sites That Give You Cash Or Store Credit For New And Lightly-Worn Clothes

    Style

    4 days

  • 3 Cheap Products For Blackheads That Dermatologists Swear By

    3 Cheap Products For Blackheads That Dermatologists Swear By

    Beauty

    4 days

  • Target Just Added 11 New Products To Your Favorite Brand

    Target Just Added 11 New Products To Your Favorite Brand

    Beauty

    4 days

  • Shoppers Can't Stop Raving About This All-In-One Home Security System

    Shoppers Can't Stop Raving About This All-In-One Home Security System

    Shop

    4 days

  • Um, How Bella Hadid Not Have A Wardrobe Malfunction In This See-Through Top?

    Um, How Bella Hadid Not Have A Wardrobe Malfunction In This See-Through Top?

    Celebrity

    4 days

  • Forever 21 Is Making This Big Change To Its Stores

    Forever 21 Is Making This Big Change To Its Stores

    Beauty

    4 days

  • 3 Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter Dupes That Are Just As Great As The Original

    3 Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter Dupes That Are Just As Great As The Original

    Beauty

    4 days

  • This Is The Worst Thing To Put On A Zit, According To A Dermatologist

    This Is The Worst Thing To Put On A Zit, According To A Dermatologist

    Beauty

    4 days

  • These Are The Best Collaborations You <em>Need</em> To Know About Now

    LeSportsac Just Launched An Adorable Collab With Hershey's

    Shop

    4 days