Antibiotics – Image Courtesy: Michael Mortensen
Your first aid kit is a very important item for you, of course, as it can help you in cases of emergencies for various injuries and other health problems when there is no need to consult a physician. Just as important, you need to regularly check this kit’s contents for expiry dates and remove any medicine that is out of date in it.
One of the most important things that need cleaning in your kit are any antibiotics that are already ‘inappropriate’ to take. By inappropriate, we mean those antibiotics whose expiry date has already passed or is very close. So, if you have any medicine that has expired, you definitely shouldn’t be ingesting it after that. Actually, you ought to remove from your kit any drugs that have expired to make sure that no one will swallow them without being aware of their expiry.
So what is an expiry date?
This is the final day that your medicine is guaranteed to work safely and to its full potency. Every medication has an expiration date – even herbal supplements and over-the-counter drugs. This is extremely important to keep in mind when using medicines.
The stability of a drug is very important. However, it is hard to guarantee it once you open the bottle. Which is why, in order to ensure the safe use of the pills, you ought to always follow the safe instructions marked on the label. Furthermore, you should never use those medicines after the expiration date.
Many medications are said to lose their strength after a while, especially after they expire. They lose their effectiveness and taking them will not help you in any way. So there is no reason to keep expired pills in your kit, right? However, there are drugs that get stronger with time and are absolutely dangerous if taken after the said period elapses.
What’s bad about them is that they start to break down into other compounds that are harmful and pose a risk to your health. These chemical products are formed after the expiration date of the said drug, which is why you should always check the expiry date before you use pills. This applies especially to antibiotics.
But what about those I have seen using expired drugs without any problem?
There are some people who tend to keep using a drug that has already expired and no apparent changes or problems occur in their bodies. However, we don’t encourage that. The truth is that even if nothing occurs to your body after swallowing outdated medication, it still may not have the desired effect.
For example, if you want to treat flu with outdated antibiotics, the chances are that you won’t get well as the pills have lost their strength. Remember what we said about the expire date? It is the last day by which the manufacturers can guarantee efficiency of the said product. You should not be surprised, then, that the drug does not work the way you expected it to work.
Isn’t the shelf life of a drug longer than the expiry date?
Some associations claim that the shelf life of drugs is longer than what the expiration date says, probably six months after that. However, as long as this is not stated on the label of the medication, it is not recommended to use it after that.
So, the two basic reasons why expired medicine should be thrown away are:
- because it may be ineffective, and
- because it may put you at risk for the reasons explained above.
Therefore, before you are tempted to use your old drugs, clean them away from your first aid kit.
Connie Jameson is a blogger who writes for health and hygiene. She works for Fast Home Cleaning and is obsessed with her home and the hygiene in it.