A Place For Everything
Proper storage is one way to help make sure your medicines will remain safe and effective up to their expiration date. Be sure to read the label to see if there are specific storage instructions for your medicine. Certain medicines need to be stored in the refrigerator and others cannot be exposed to high temperatures. Improper storage such as a damp bathroom cabinet can contribute to decreased effectiveness in medicines that have not reached their posted expiration date. For most medicines, to help ensure the proper shelf life of your medicine, it is better to store medicine in a cool, dry place such as a dresser drawer, storage box, closet shelf, or kitchen cabinet.
When storing medicine in a kitchen cabinet make sure that it is away from hot appliances and the sink due to changing temperatures and humidity, which can affect the medicine. When storing medicine in a high traffic area, like a kitchen, care should be taken to prevent access by children at risk of accidental poisoning or others who may be tempted to take for abuse/misuse.
Remember to store medicines properly and dont use expired medicines — its not worth the risk!
What Can You Do To Keep Antibiotics Working
Everyone is responsible. Below you will find a few examples of actions by which you can contribute to keep antibiotics working:
Everybody can contribute to keep antibiotics working by:
- Using antibiotics only against bacterial infections, and not infections caused by viruses such as common colds or flu.
- Always seeking a doctors advice before taking antibiotics.
- Once the doctor has confirmed that antibiotics are necessary, taking them in a responsible manner, following the doctors advice in terms of dosage and duration of time.
- Avoiding self-medication with antibiotics. Self-medication is when you use leftover antibiotics from previous treatments, or get antibiotics at the pharmacy without a prescription.
- Not sharing left-over antibiotics with other people.
- Not keeping leftover antibiotic treatments. If you received more antibiotic doses than you were prescribed, ask your pharmacists about how to dispose the remaining doses.
- Learning how you can take care of yourself without antibiotics, if they are not necessary.
- For winter-related illnesses, drinking plenty of fluids and getting some rest to help improve your symptoms.
Primary care prescribers can contribute to keep antibiotics working by:
Policy makers can contribute to keep antibiotics working by:
Pharmacists can contribute to keep antibiotics working by:
Hospital prescribers can contribute to keep antibiotics working by:
People At Risk Of Bacterial Infections
Antibiotics may also be recommended for people who are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of infection. This may include:
- people aged over 75 years
- babies less than 72 hours old who have a bacterial infection, or a higher than average risk of developing one
- people with heart failure
- people who have to take insulin for diabetes
- people with a weakened immune system either because of an underlying health condition such as HIV or as a side effect of certain treatments, such as chemotherapy
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What Can Parents Do
Every family faces its share of colds, sore throats, and viruses. When you bring your child to the doctor for these illnesses, it’s important to not expect a prescription for antibiotics.
To lower the risk of bacterial resistance and prevent antibiotic overuse:
- Ask your doctor if your child’s illness is bacterial or viral. Discuss the risks and benefits of antibiotics. If it’s a virus, ask about ways to treat symptoms. Don’t pressure your doctor to prescribe antibiotics.
- Let milder illnesses run their course. This helps prevent germs from becoming antibiotic-resistant.
- Antibiotics must be taken for the full amount of time prescribed by the doctor. Otherwise, the infection may come back.
- Don’t let your child take antibiotics longer than prescribed.
- Do not use leftover antibiotics or save extra antibiotics “for next time.”
- Don’t give your child antibiotics that were prescribed for another family member or adult.
It’s also important to make sure that your kids:
- are up to date on their immunizations
- stay home from school when they’re sick
Which Drugs And Medications Can You Discard
You can and should dispose of any drugs or medications that are expired, unused, or unwanted. These typically fall into three categories.
Most over-the-counter or prescription drugs can be disposed of at home or at a pharmacy.
For medications or drugs that may be controlled or illegal, the Drug Enforcement Agency hosts a series of Take Back Days where law enforcement and federal agencies accept drugs and medications for disposal with no questions asked. The most recent Take Back Day was in Oct. 2019 and boasted over 6,000 collection sites with an average of 120 sites per state.
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Restore Gut Flora With Probiotics
Taking probiotics to replenish the good bacteria after antibiotics is widely accepted as a common best practice. The concept of using probiotics after antibiotics is extensively studied and suggested by many published studies as a natural effective way that may help to restore the gut flora faster. This is especially important, considering it make the body anywhere between a few weeks to a few months to recover by itself .
How To Dispose Of Prescription Pill Bottles
Whether you dispose of your medication in the garbage or flush it down the toilet, you should properly dispose of your prescription containers as well. Those who misuse drugs might find the bottles in your trash, and , target your home.
As mentioned above, before discarding your prescription bottles, you should scratch out any personal information, including the medication, your name, the pharmacy , and the prescription number.
If you remove the sticker label completely, you may be able to recycle your prescription bottle. However, not all bottles can be recycled curbside by all municipalities. The issue is, in part, due to the small size of a pill bottle. Many facilities simply cant handle recyclables that small.
If your area cannot curbside recycle pill bottles, your pharmacy might. Check with your local pharmacy to see if theyre able to dispose of your empty pill bottles.
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Taking Antibiotics For Wrong Reasons Such As Against Colds And Flu Will Not Help You Feel Better Faster And May Cause Side
Taking antibiotics against a cold or the flu has no benefit for you: antibiotics simply do not work against viral infections . In addition, antibiotics may cause several unpleasant side effects such as diarrhoea, nausea or skin rashes .
Taking antibiotics to fight mild bacterial infections, such as rhinosinusitis, sore throats, bronchitis or earaches, is often unnecessary since, in most cases, your own immune system is able to deal with such mild infections.
Most symptoms can be alleviated with over-the-counter medicines. Taking antibiotics will not reduce the severity of your symptoms and will not help you feel better faster .
If your symptoms persist or if you have any concern, it is important that you see your doctor. If you really have a severe infection such as bacterial pneumonia, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Seek help more quickly than other people :
- if you are over 65 years old
- if you have asthma or diabetes
- if you have lung disease
- if you have heart problems
- if you have a medical problem where your immune system is suppressed or
- if you are taking drugs that suppress the immune system .
List adapted from Genomics to combat resistance against antibiotics in community-acquired LRTI in Europe, a project funded by the European Commissions Directorate-General for Research and Innovation.
How To Take Antibiotics
Take antibiotics as directed on the packet or the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine, or as instructed by your GP or pharmacist.
Antibiotics can come as:
- tablets, capsules or a liquid that you drink these can be used to treat most types of mild to moderate infections in the body
- creams, lotions, sprays and drops these are often used to treat skin infections and eye or ear infections
- injections these can be given as an injection or through a drip directly into the blood or muscle, and are used for more serious infections
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What Foods To Not Eat While Taking Antibiotics
There are some foods you should avoid while on antibiotics, either because they interfere with absorption or because the combination can make you feel sick.
In most cases, these foods simply interact poorly and make the antibiotics less effective.
Foods to avoid include:
- Grapefruit You should avoid both the fruit and the juice of this sour citrus product. It contains compounds that can keep the body from properly absorbing your antibiotics as well as other medications, too!
- Excess Calcium Some studies show that excess calcium interferes with absorption. For best results, stick to fermented dairy products until you are finished with your antibiotics.
- Alcohol Mixing alcohol and antibiotics can lead to a host of unpleasant side effects. The most common of these are
- Increased nausea
- Abdominal pain
- Heart rate issues. You should avoid alcohol throughout the duration of treatment and for 48 to 72 hours after treatment ends.
Can You Take Expired Antibiotics Is It Safe
Even if the potency and efficacy of antibiotics may remain after expiration, do not take the expired antibiotics. Even if there is no evidence of the antibiotics expiring or going bad, you should never take expired medicines.
If for some reason it is an emergency and your antibiotics are past the expiration date, but there is no other evidence of the medicine going bad, then it may be acceptable. However, you should call your doctor for advice beforehand. Taking expired antibiotics can cause more harm than good in some cases.
Other than this, it is not safe to use expired antibiotics because of the following factors:
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Dont Let Others Borrow Or Share Your Antibiotics
Sharing antibiotics doesnt come without risks, especially since different people can have different reactions to them. Penicillin might be perfectly safe for you, for example, but someone you know might be severely allergic to it. Its also possible for one of your friends to get hives after taking Bactrim, even if youve taken it before with no such reactions.
Sharing antibiotics with others increases the risk of that person experiencing side effects or potential medical emergencies. Disposing of any left over antibiotics after youve finished a full course will help prevent the urge to lend antibiotics to others.
When Antibiotics Are Needed
Antibiotics may be used to treat bacterial infections that:
- are unlikely to clear up without antibiotics
- could infect others
- could take too long to clear without treatment
- carry a risk of more serious complications
People at a high risk of infection may also be given antibiotics as a precaution, known as antibiotic prophylaxis.
Read more about when antibiotics are used and why they are not routinely used to treat infections.
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When Are Antibiotics Needed
This complicated question, which should be answered by your healthcare provider, depends on the specific diagnosis. For example, there are several types of ear infectionsmost need antibiotics, but some do not. Most cases of sore throat are caused by viruses. One kind, strep throat, diagnosed by a lab test, needs antibiotics.
Common viral infections, like coughs or a cold, can sometimes become complicated and a bacterial infection can develop. However, treating viral infections with antibiotics in order to prevent bacterial infections is not recommended because of the risk of causing bacterial resistance:
Remember that antibiotics do not work against viral colds and the flu, and that unnecessary antibiotics can be harmful.
Talk with your healthcare provider about antibiotics and find out about the differences between viruses and bacteria, and when antibiotics should and should not be used.
If your child receives an antibiotic, be sure to give it exactly as prescribed to decrease the development of resistant bacteria. Have your child finish the entire prescription. Don’t stop when the symptoms of infection go away.
Never save the left over antibiotics to use “just in case.” This practice can also lead to bacterial resistance.
Do not share your antibiotics with someone else or take an antibiotic that was prescribed for someone else.
Antibiotic resistance is a problem in both children and adults.
What If I Forget To Give It Or Give Too Much
- Antibiotics work best when given regularly. They are unlikely to cause any problems if you give an extra dose by mistake.
- Detailed information about what to do if you forget to give an antibiotic or give too much is available on the individual medicines pages for each antibiotic by searching here: Medicines Information
- If you are concerned that you have forgotten to give several doses or have given your child too much, contact your doctor or local NHS services . Have the medicine or packaging with you if you telephone for advice.
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How Many Paracetamol Am I Allowed To Take In A Day
The most common dose for adults is one or two 500mg tablets up to 4 times in a 24 hour period.
Paracetamol can be taken with or without food but you are always advised to leave at least 4 hours between doses.
It can take up to an hour to work so it is important not to take more if you can’t feel the effects straight away.
For children, the strength and dosage required depends on their age so always read the instructions carefully so you know what to give your kid.
Most people can use paracetamol safely but the NHS has said that you should check with your doctor or pharmacist first if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to paracetamol or any other medicines in the past
- have liver or kidney problems
- regularly drink more than the maximum recommended amount of alcohol
- take medicine for epilepsy
- take medicine for tuberculosis
- take the blood-thinner warfarin and you may need to take paracetamol on a regular basis
How Should I Store My Medicines To Maintain Their Shelf Life
Proper storage of medications may help to extend their potency. The bathroom and medicine cabinet are not ideal places to store medications due to heat and humidity. Similarly, medications should not be left in a hot car or glovebox, or in freezing weather.
Most oral, solid medications remain most stable in dry, cool spaces away from light. Keep the prescription bottle caps tightly closed and always keep medications out of reach of children and pets. Look at your package insert for proper storage instructions, or ask your pharmacist. Be careful to follow any instructions for refrigeration or freezing.
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Taking Unnecessary Antibiotics May Do More Harm Than Good
Heres the biggest problem with overusing antibiotics: Bacteria adapt.
Bacteria become resistant to drugs over time, making it harder to treat bacterial infections. In rare cases, this leads to deadly drug-resistant bacterial infections.
Drug-resistant bacteria make it harder to find effective drug options when you do face a severe infection, Dr. Allan says. When you are talking about large groups of people, this resistance can be dangerous, making it easier for an infection to spread.
Ask Your Doctor Or Pharmacist About Ways To Feel Better If An Antibiotic Isnt Needed
For more information on common illnesses and how to feel better, visit Common Illnesses.
Antibiotics arent always the answer when youre sick. Sometimes, the best treatment when youre sick may be over-the-counter medication. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for tips on how to feel better while your body fights off an infection.
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What The Fda Has To Say
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted a major study on drugs that were stored in the best conditions .
Out of the 1,000 drugs that were tested, only insulin and liquid antibiotics degraded quickly.
Eye drops and ear drops may prove harmful as well as they may no longer be sterile causing an eye or ear infection instead of actually curing one.
The majority of the other drugs were still effective for years after their expiration dates. Some of them were still at full strength as much as 5 and 10 years after their expiration dates!
Again, you have to wonder if these expiration dates which the government made mandatory in 1979 arent just a way to get Americans to throw out their expired medications and buy new prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines.
Is the expiration date a marketing ploy by drug manufacturers, to keep you restocking your medicine cabinet and their pockets regularly? You can look at it that way. Or you can also look at it this way: The expiration dates are very conservative to ensure you get everything you paid for. And, really, if a drug manufacturer had to do expiration-date testing for longer periods it would slow their ability to bring you new and improved formulations.
That being said, it is important to understand that not storing your medications properly can cause them to degrade often before their expiration dates. So, you should always follow the storage and dosing instructions which appear on the bottle.