What happens if i take expired allergy medicine

The expiration date on the packaging of OTC and prescription drugs doesn't necessarily reflect when the product expires.

"The vast majority of medications maintain most of their potency years after the posted expiration date. That date is the date after which full potency cannot be guaranteed by the manufacturer," emergency-medicine specialist Dr. Jack Springer told INSIDER.

Studies conducted by independent researchers and the Food and Drug istration own found that common drugs retain almost every their potency numerous years after the posted expiration date.

"The expiration date doesn't really indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use," Springer said.

"Medical authorities state if expired medicine is safe to take, even those that expired years ago."

There are exceptions; some medications and drug types undergo changes during extended storage that can compromise their safety or effectiveness. Liquid medications and some antibiotics are among these.

Keeping in mind that most OTC medications in tablet or capsule form are safe to use for numerous years after their expiration date, here are some guidelines on how to manage the drugs in your medicine cabinet.

What should you do with expired medicine?

In the past, guidelines on getting rid of expired medicine haven’t always had the best advice.

“I remember when the recommendation was to flush expired medication,” Dr.

Vogel says. Of course, we know now that’s a bad idea—it can get into the water supply. The best thing to do, Dr. Vogel says, is to put the medication in a form where people can’t ingest it, on purpose or accidentally. If it’s a capsule, open it up and dump the contents into the trash. If it’s a tablet, stir it with dirt or something else undesirable and trash it.

What happens if i take expired allergy medicine

With liquid antibiotics, pour it into cat litter or coffee grounds so it’s absorbed, then throw it.

If you don’t desire to dump the expired medicine in your own trash, you can utilize a take back program. “Many city halls, police departments, and fire departments take unwanted medications,” Rauch says. “There is generally no charge to do this. Just remove any private information before bringing it there.”

Supe also notes that cities around the country host biannual drug take back days, which is an option if the hospitals or police stations near you don’t own disposal sites.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement istration (DEA) runs an annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, too.

What happens if i take expired allergy medicine

RELATED: How to get rid of unused medications

“Getting rid of expired medication is a valuable thing to do,” Vogel says. “I don’t ponder keeping things around because you might need it is necessarily a excellent thought. You don’t desire to get into the mindset that it’s OK to take expired medication. The dates are there for a reason.”

Ultimately, it’s significant to remember that those drug expiration dates—no matter how flexible they may or may not be—serve a purpose and you should adhere to them.


Should your pills stay or should they go?

Going by the expiration date is unsatisfying; numerous people suspect their meds are perfectly usable months after they’ve supposedly expired. And they’re right: A 1980s study conducted by the FDA and the military revealed that most pills remain effective years after their expiration date. But how can you be sure? We talked to doctors, pharmacists and the FDA to get these 10 tips for gauging a date’s accuracy—and more.

7. Know Where the Meds Originated

Pharmacies take pills out of their original containers, repackage them and put new expiration dates on.

It’s hard to be definitive, but a medication dispensed by a pharmacy is likely to lose its potency faster than a medication that remains in an unopened container—even if the pharmacy’s container isn’t opened.

What happens if i take expired allergy medicine

Ponder of it as another factor to consider when doing your educated guesswork about what to hold and what to throw.

9. Don’t Hold Kids’ Meds

«Because children are smaller and their metabolic systems aren’t fully developed, I wouldn’t hang on to kids’ meds past the expiration dates,» says Dr. Langevin. «Plus, a lot of medications for children are prepared in suspensions so the kids will take them, and those flavored liquids can decompose and acquire bacterial growth.»


What happens if i take expired allergy medicine

Glance for Visual Clues

If a pill crumbles in your hand, it’s probably best not to take it. But there are subtler clues, too, love smell: Too-old aspirin, for example, smells love vinegar. «Be suspicious of anything that looks out of the ordinary,» says Negrete.

What happens if i take expired allergy medicine

Faded dyes or amusing smells may not actually mean the drug is less potent, but they’re clues that something’s decomposing—a excellent reason to get a new bottle.

3. Realize There’s No Magic Formula

«Let’s tell it takes a year for a drug’s potency to decrease to 95%,» says Paul Langevin, MD, director of cardiac anesthesiology at Waterbury Hospital in Waterbury, Connecticut. «I can’t tell you six months later if it’s at 93% potency or at 33%. That data’s not available.» It’s not available because drug companies don’t desire to spend money for the tests.

The point? If you’re uncomfortable with guesswork, go by the marked date.

1. What to Save, What to Throw

«In general, I would tell numerous oral medications are safe to take a year or two beyond their marked expiration date,» says Sara Bingel, PharmD, clinical pharmacist at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital.

Save After Expiration: Pain relievers (Tylenol, aspirin), headache pills, allergy meds (Benadryl), stomach meds (Tums)and cold/flu pills

Toss After Expiration:Antibiotics, nitroglycerine (for chest pain), lifesaving meds, liquid/suspension meds and children’s medications


Heed Expiration Dates on Lifesaving Drugs

The FDA requires manufacturers to determine how endless it takes a drug to reach a potency level of 95%; when it’s reached that level, it’s «expired.» The point: Expiration dates are about efficacy, not safety. «How significant is it that you need to get the correct quantity into your body?» says Michael J. Negrete, PharmD, CEO of the Pharmacy Foundation of California. «I might be willing to roll the dice with cough syrup. It’s no large deal if the potency is below and it doesn’t assist my cough.

What happens if i take expired allergy medicine

But imagine an EpiPen, which keeps people from going into anaphylactic shock, not working.»

4. Hold the Solids, Throw the Liquids

Gel capsules, liquids and suspensions (in which the athletic ingredient is «suspended» in liquid) lose potency more quickly than pills and capsules—and, worse, they’re at risk of becoming contaminated by bacteria. «Think rancid milk,» says Bingel. The upshot? Pay attention to the expiration dates on liquid medications.

5. Save Meds by Storing Them Well

Expiration dates are based on the assumption that an unopened package is stored in a cool, dry, dark put. That’s why it’s brilliant to take storage conditions into account when deciding whether to hold a medication: An unopened package of Benadryl kept in a dark drawer in a dry Southwestern city will likely work for years after the expiration date. In contrast, medicine cabinets—often placed in humid bathrooms—tend to be terrible places for medications.

Ditto with boiling, sunlit cars.

6. Get Rid of Expired Antibiotics

«I would advise patients never to take antibiotics that are expired,» says Bingel. «They may not completely kill the bacteria and lead to a resistant infection.» Even worse, tetracycline—a common antibiotic—is one of the few medications ever shown to be toxic (not just less potent) after its expiration date.

10. 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’t—keeping 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.

  1. Tablet medications love ibuprofen remain effective for years after being opened.
  2. Though every medications own an expiration date on their packaging, most stay potent endless after that date.
  3. Probiotics and liquid medicines deteriorate faster.

Just love food, medication is required by law to own an expiration date on its packaging.

But how endless past that date can you hold using your over-the-counter and prescription drugs? And is it safe to take expired medicine?

INSIDER talked to medical experts to discover out how endless you can hold using some common medications after opening them.

What medications are unsafe after the expiration date?

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

  1. Eye drops: Expired eye drops lose their pH balance and can finish up burning your eyes, Dr.

    Supe says.

  2. Supplements: These aren’t regulated as well as FDA-approved medication, Dr. Supe says, so be more safe than sorry and avoid taking them if they’re expired.
  3. Tetracycline and doxycycline: These antibiotics become hazardous with time, Rauch says. Tetracycline in specific is known to cause kidney damage after the use-by date.
  4. Injectable/IV drugs: This is mostly a concern in hospitals, but Dr.

    Vogel says patients will never get expired medicine in a medical facility.

What happens if you take expired medicine?

With most over-the-counter (OTC) medication, taking expired drugs will either assist you or own no effect—the medicine could no longer be potent. Side effects may be a bit more pronounced, but you probably won’t get sicker than you already are, especially if you’ve stored your medication properly, in its original containers. A lot of things can degrade medicine more quickly than normal: light exposure, temperature, and humidity.

Contrary to favorite belief, the medicine cabinet is not the correct put to hold your pills.

The bathroom is far too boiling and steamy for proper storage of medication. You’ll desire to discover a cool, dark, dry put, out of the reach of children. Some medications require refrigeration and special handling, Dr. Supe says, so be certain to follow the package directions carefully. If you plan on putting pills in a pill box, discover one that’s shaded, not clear, to hold them out of direct light.

You should also consider the source of the medication. “Purchasing medication online or from a foreign country is not a safe practice,” Dr. Supe says. “There is no regulating body ensuring the medication is what it says it is and is safe for consumption. There own been numerous instances where people own purchased medication online from another country due to cost and it has contained rat poison and no traces of the athletic ingredients it claims to have.” In other words, medication from exterior the United States may be unsafe even before it’s expired.

What does a drug’s expiration date mean?

Every medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, has an expiration date.

And similar to the expiration dates on food, if you ingest it after that date, the results can be a little dicey. Scientifically speaking, says Reed Supe, Pharm.D., a pharmacist in Alaska, “a drug’s expiration date is when the athletic ingredient has lost 10% of its potency.” Those dates can be a bit conservative, though, because they’re meant to ensure that the drug product is fully effective and safe to use for its entire shelf life. After that date, the chemical components of the drug may change in unexpected ways, rendering the drug unusable.

Lisa Vogel, Pharm.D., a pharmacist who works at a hospital in Illinois, notes that hospitals will never give expired medication, even if it’s an hour past the date and time listed on the drug.

“When we compound something, it has a ‘beyond use’ date, and that is a date and a time specific to the specific drug,” she says.

“Those are strict guidelines.”

At home, though, the situation gets a bit more fuzzy. Carl Rauch, RPh, a pharmacist in Wisconsin, says to never take anything that’s expired—”potency and safety cannot be sure after the date,” he says, and with allergy medicine in specific, the side effects could get worse even as the full potency declines.

Is it safe to take expired medicine?

Whether it’s safe to take something that’s expired really depends on what it is. Every medicine ages differently. Allergy medication, pain relievers (like ibuprofen or acetaminophen), and freezing medicine likely won’t hurt you.

But avoid taking expired antibiotics, supplements, and eye drops.

Truthfully, you shouldn’t own any antibiotics expiring on you anyway. The prescriptions should always be taken in full only for the indication for which they were prescribed—if you don’t, Dr. Vogel says, you could get worse or risk your infection developing resistance against the antibiotic. Plus, the fundamental composition of antibiotics changes over time, which can cause issues on its own. “Some antibiotics become hazardous past the expiration date and cause more harm,” Rauch says.

“Others lose their potency and own little or no effect with increased side-effects.”

Or, if it’s a life-saving treatment—like nitroglycerin—it might still work if you don’t own any other options, but is it worth the risk? Probably not.

How endless can you take medicine after the expiration date?

Drs. Vogel and Supe consent it’s excellent not to take any over-the-counter drug that’s expired, though both tell to use your best judgment if you own a stockpile of meds. A week or a month, or even up to a year, after the expiration date probably won’t hurt you, the medicine will just be less effective.

Just because the expiration date has passed, doesn’t mean the medication is immediately useless—but that’s diverse for every medication.

“The molecule breakdown is not linear and not the same from molecule to molecule,” Dr. Supe says. “Therefore, there is no blanket statement as to when something is ‘too expired.’”

That being said, a research team may own found information to debate expiration dates. On a study of 14 unopened medications that were every between 28 and 40 years expired, researchers found 86% of them retained at least 90% of the athletic drug. Still, though, because these results can’t be guaranteed with medication that’s already been opened or stored in less-than-optimal conditions, the U.S.

Food and Drug istration (FDA) doesn’t support taking expired drugs.


What happens if i take expired allergy medicine