What happens if you take expired allergy medicine

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.

What happens if you take expired allergy medicine

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 does the expiration date mean?

Since 1979, the FDA has legally required drug manufacturers to list an expiration date. That date reflects the latest point at which the “manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug,” according to Harvard Medical School’s Health Publishing.

But research conducted by the FDA demonstrates that 90 percent of more than 100 drugs—both prescription and over-the-counter—are perfectly excellent to use even 15 years after the expiration date. In fact, a Medscape report reveals that expiration dates don’t indicate how endless a drug “is actually ‘good’ or safe to use.” As a result, medical authorities uniformly tell it’s safe to ignore most expiration dates for fairly a while.

What medications are unsafe after the expiration date?

Some medications are simply ineffective after their expiration.

What happens if you take expired allergy medicine

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. 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.
  3. 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.
  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 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. 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.

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.



It’s really not a excellent thought to take expired medication at all.

The company that manufactures a specific drug works with the regulatory authority to confirm and guarantee that the medicine will still be athletic in the quantity on the label up to expiration time.

After that, there’s no guarantee that it won’t decay or become ineffective.

Less potent freezing medicine is obviously not ideal, but this becomes much more dangerous when you’re talking about prescription drugs, such as antibiotics, insulin, epinephrine auto-injectors or cardiac medications. These drugs own what we call a “narrow therapeutic window,” which means you need the exact quantity of medicine, in the prescribed dosage—and the effect of not receiving that exact dosage could be life-threatening.

For example, a number of years ago, an antibiotic caused kidney damage when it was taken after the expiration date because it had decayed into a diverse chemical composition.

That medication has since been changed, but that type of risk may still exist with others.

When it comes to medicine in a solution, love liquid eye drops, the risk of decay is still there, but there’s also the risk of bacterial growth. When you open the lid of the medicine,or if your skin comes into contact with it during use, bacteria maymixinto the solution.If you then use the medicine after that bacteria has been allowed to grow—at a time beyond the expiration date—you finish up with a high risk of contamination and infection.

Manufacturers test their medicines over a range of consistent temperature and humidity levels.

What happens if you take expired allergy medicine

The expiry date reflects those conditions, which is why it’s significant to store your medication according to the instructions provided on the bottle or by your pharmacist.

— Dr. Aran Maree, Chief Medical Officer, Janssen Pharmaceuticals


Here’s news that may save you money. You can often still use medication even past the expiration date—sometimes 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.

What happens if you take expired allergy medicine

And if you ponder that’s surprising, check out why your pharmacist actually knows more than your doctor.

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.

What happens if you take expired allergy medicine

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.

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.

What happens if you take expired allergy medicine

“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.

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.