Cabinet cleanup

Along with your usual spring tidying rituals, Thomas Gutwein, MD, medical director, Emergency Medicine, encourages you to add a onceover for your medicine cabinets. “Spring is a great time to eliminate anything 2-3 years old or any bottles that have expired in the last few months.”

Once you identify those medications that are no longer safe to ingest, you should properly dispose of them. “You can throw most over-the-counter medicine away, or if there are any concerns, particularly with any opioid or mood-altering medication, or needles, safely dispose of them by giving them to your local pharmacy or police post.”

Why is it so important to eliminate these potentially harmful medications? “If you take an expired drug, it can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, abdominal pain or rash,” Dr. Gutwein said. “Also, medicine, particularly antibiotics, are not effective after their expiration date.” If you have a medication without an expiration date listed, check to see if the pill has dissolved or changed in color at all. For liquid medications, Dr. Gutwein says, “If you pour it out and the consistency is cloudy or not pure, or the color is different in any way, just throw it out.” 

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