X
X

Enter to win a hair treatment from Moroccanoil!

*By entering to win, you agree to receive future emails from Moroccanoil and SheFinds.

beauty

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

September 28, 2016 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

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.

From Our Partners

Learn more about RevenueStripe...

From Our Partners

Learn more about RevenueStripe...

beauty

What Is Crepe Skin? Here's Everything You Need To Know About Preventing & Treating It

August 16, 2018 by Lisa Fogarty
Here's what you need to know.

beauty

The One Food You Should Eat To De-Bloat Your Face, According To Experts

August 16, 2018 by Emily Belfiore
This is actually kind of amazing...

beauty

This New Anti-Aging Product Gets Rid Of Wrinkles SO Fast It Keeps Selling Out At Sephora

August 16, 2018 by Emily Belfiore
It's already our favorite product!

beauty

This $14 Retinol Product Is SO Good It Keeps Selling Out On Amazon

August 16, 2018 by Jessica Harrington
So affordable!

beauty

I Have *Really* Oily Skin & This May Be The Best Moisturizer I’ve Ever Used

August 15, 2018 by Emily Belfiore
I'm never going back to my old moisturizer!

beauty

The 8 Best Face Sunscreens For Every Skin Type-- Find The One That's Right For You!

August 15, 2018 by Jessica Harrington
We've done our research.

beauty

5 Benefit Hoola Bronzer Dupes That Are So Good, You Can't Tell The Difference

August 15, 2018 by Jennifer Hussein
Save your money with these!

beauty

Bar Soaps Are Back "In" And This One Is The Best

August 15, 2018 by Jeanine Edwards

beauty

This Cheap Natural Eye Cream Is Selling Out At Target Because It Works SO Fast

August 15, 2018 by Emily Belfiore
It'll blow your mind!

beauty

The Super Affordable Drugstore Product Celebrities Swear By For Thinning Hair

August 15, 2018 by Emily Belfiore
It's cheaper than we thought!

beauty

The Bizarre $17 Anti-Aging Product That Works Like Botox For The Skin

August 15, 2018 by Emily Belfiore
We didn't think this was possible!

beauty

We Found The Best Dupes For Fenty Beauty By Rihanna’s Sold Out Body Lava

August 14, 2018 by Jessica Harrington
Get your glow on.

beauty

The $8 Drugstore Self-Tanner That Works Better Than The Expensive Stuff

August 14, 2018 by Emily Belfiore
This is a game-changer!

beauty

Here's How To Get Five Maybelline Lipsticks For Just $14.99 #YesPlease

If you want to update your makeup collection for fall, ...

beauty

5 Benefit Hoola Bronzer Dupes That Are So Good, You Can't Tell The Difference

Every contour queen knows that the only way to really ...

beauty

These Are The New Beauty Products You Need In Your Makeup Bag For Fall

Raise your hand if you can't wait for fall! ...

beauty

Bar Soaps Are Back "In" And This One Is The Best

I don't remember exactly when it happened, but somewhere ...

LOAD MORE
+
LOAD MORE POSTS