What Antibiotic Side Effects Should Parents Look Out For
As many as one out of 10 kids have side effects from taking antibiotics. Let your doctor know if your child has any of the following symptoms after using antibiotics:
- Watery diarrhea
- Diarrhea with blood in it
- Itchy rash or hives
Seek medical attention immediately if your child has a more serious reaction to antibiotics, including:
- Blistering skin
- Swelling of the face and throat
- Breathing problems
- Severe and persistent diarrhea
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
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.
You May Not Need Antibiotics
First, the illness you have or the pain you are feeling may not be caused by a bacteria at all. Many ear infections, sore throats and even lingering coughs like bronchitis are caused by viruses. Antibiotics don’t kill viruses. Taking another person’s antibiotics may not help you and taking antibiotics when you don’t need them leads to antibiotic resistance.
Only your healthcare provider can determine if your illness is caused by a bacteria. Depending on your symptoms and certain tests, if your healthcare provider feels strongly that antibiotics are necessary, then you should take them. But just because your best friend had similar symptoms and was given antibiotics doesn’t mean you do too. And it certainly doesn’t mean you should take hers.
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Can You Take Expired Antibiotics Do They Lose Their Potency And Efficacy
The potency and efficacy of antibiotics or any other medications will start degrading from the point of manufacture. But further testing has been carried out on this.
Ongoing research states that if the right storage conditions are met, medications including antibiotics can retain 90% of their potency for up to as much as 15 years after expiration.
Therefore, it is believed that antibiotics can retain a significant portion of potency for up to 10 years after their expiration date.
The best evidence that antibiotics and other similar medications may retain their potency beyond expiration is the Shelf Life Extension Program undertaken by the FDA for the Department of Defense. This program was carried out to reduce medication costs for the military.
The SLEP program found that around 88% of 122 medications, including antibiotics, retained potency for more than one year. The program determined that the average expiration extension should be 66 months and a maximum extension of 278 months, depending on the medication, of course.
Its also important within the question, can you take expired antibiotics, to add that these antibiotics were stored in optimal storage conditions. These may be different conditions than many people would store them. More on storage shortly.
Can You Tell A Drug Is Expired
One of the main problems with expired drugs is that it can be difficult to tell if they have lost potency.
Some drugs, like aspirin, do show noticeable signs when they begin to break down. Expired aspirin, for example, begins to degrade into acetic acid, which has a distinct vinegar smell.
Most drugs don’t have noticeable signs of degradation however and the fact of the matter is if a drug is past its listed expiration date, you just don’t know it is as potent as it once was.
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What Do The Expiration Dates Mean
In 1979 the FDA passed a law requiring all drug manufacturers to put an expiration date on their products. Officially, that date tells you how long the drug can be relied on to have the desired effect as long as its been properly stored. In reality manufacturers, wary of being sued by someone whos taken drugs that have become ineffective or toxic, are pretty conservative with the dates they use.
They pick a date that theyre confident is well within the limit, then build in a little more slack to allow for poor storage. Effectively, the expiration date is one the company is happy to stand by in court. Pharma companies tell people to dispose of expired drugs. Yes, they want you to buy another pack of their product. Actually, the main reason is that when lawyers come knocking because someone got sick from taking expired tablets, they can point at their advice and say We told you not to do that.
The reality is that most medicines will stay safe and potent long after the expiration date on the package. This isnt just a guess, either. We know for a fact that plenty of medicines will work just fine ten, 20, even 40 years after they officially expire.
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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How To Store Antibiotics At Home
So first things first: lets just get your antibiotics to last at least to the expiration date youre given. To do that, store them in tight containers at room temperature .
Even if the pills get really hot one time , that could be enough to render them unusable, Prabhavathi Fernandes, Ph.D., founder and president of Cempra Pharmaceuticals, said in an email interview. Some of them could be partially or completely destroyed. Some could be fine.
Storing the pills below room temperature, however, might not be a bad idea. Refrigeration will prolong the life of most drugs. But each drug will behave differently, said Fernandes, whose company is focused on developing antibacterials. Once opened, one must be careful, as some of the tablets may absorb moisture. Freezing could prolong life, but some drugs may be unstable to a freeze-thaw cycle. Repeated freezing can cause a drug to break down.
Some preppers wonder whether vacuum sealing could help. Fernandes thinks it might but in most cases isnt necessary.
If youre thinking about storing your pills in a container other than the one the pharmacy gave you, consider that the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, which sets quality standards for medications, even has standards for packaging material. For example, manufacturers must ensure plastic doesnt leach into the drug or vice-versa.
Do Expired Medications Lose Their Potency
The best evidence that some drugs can last past their expiration date is from the Shelf Life Extension Program undertaken by the FDA for the Department of Defense.2,7,11
The original purpose of the SLEP program was twofold: to determine the actual shelf life of stockpiled military medications for future use, and to save government dollars.5
Also, testing reported in The Medical Letter in 2015 showed that many medications were still potent decades beyond their expiration dates. The authors note that there are no published reports of human toxicity due to ingestion, injection, or topical application of a current drug formulation after its expiration date.11
These results suggest that many drug products may have extended shelf lives beyond their expiration date. However, it is difficult for any one consumer or health care provider to know which product could have an extended shelf life.
The ability for a drug to have an extended shelf life would be dependent upon the actual drug ingredients, presence of preservatives, temperature fluctuations, light, humidity, and other storage conditions. Additionally, the drug lots tested in the SLEP program were kept in their original packaging. Once a drug is repackaged into another container, as often happens in the pharmacy, the shelf-life could decline due to environmental variations.3
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How Long Specific Antibiotics Can Last
So now youve gotten all this bad news and a little good news, and the question remains: If you store them under ideal conditionsfactory sealed and everythinghow long can antibiotics last?
The answer, for most of them, is longer than their expiration date. How much longer varies quite a bit, from around one year to, in a few cases, more than 10.
A 2006 report published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences summarized SLEPs findings from the previous 20 years. Below are the antibiotics included in the report.
Youll notice that theres quite a variation in extension times. Experts we spoke with cautioned that each antibiotic is different. If one lasts 10 years, that doesnt mean they all will, by any stretch. If an antibiotic youre curious about isnt included in this list, you cant make any assumptions. Theres even variability from lot to lot. One lot may last five years another lot of the same medication may not.
One note: You may wonder what powder refers to in this list. Thats a powdered form of the drug, which pharmacists use to make injectable solutions.
In a study unrelated to SLEP from the Institute of Pharmacy at the University of Tartu in Estonia, researchers tested antibiotic tablets and capsules they found that were at least 10 years expired.
All of the antibiotics, which were manufactured in various countries, passed their test: they contained a level of active ingredients that was acceptable by U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention standards.
Can You Take Expired Medications
If your prescription medication has expired, dont use it, toss it safely. Expired drugs lose their effectiveness, can chemically change and even cause unexpected side effects.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1979 began requiring drug manufacturers to list an expiration date on medications. Those dates reflect the medications strength, quality and purity when stored according to directions.
You should never use a medication past its expiration date. But some drugs, like insulin, are particularly important to dispose of after their expiration date to guarantee effectiveness and safety.
Consider two main factors to consider before taking an expired medication:
Effectiveness: Some medications are not as effective after their expiration date. This means that if someone takes the medicine after the expiration date, they wont be getting the proper medication they need to stabilize their condition. For example, antibiotics used past their expiration date can fail to treat an infection, potentially leading to additional complications as the infection spreads in the body.
Safety: Other expired medications are at risk of bacterial growth. This can cause infection, irritation and other potentially harmful side effects.
An FDA study determined that drugs like liquid antibiotics, aspirin, nitroglycerin and insulin are among the drugs found to have deteriorated past their expiration date. Once a drug has expired, you should dispose of it properly.
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What About Expired Antibiotics
As a rule: you shouldnt keep expired antibiotics to use at a later date. However, the reason has less to do with the expiration date and more to do with how antibiotics work.
For example, lets say you have 4 or 5 antibiotic pills left from an older prescription, and youre thinking that you should keep them and take them later if you start feeling sick again over the winter.
This isnt a good idea for a number of reasons:
- A few leftover antibiotic pills arent enough to rid the bacteria from your body.
- Youd be self-diagnosing which can be very dangerous.
What you may think is a bacterial infection requiring antibiotics may in fact be a viral infection that antibiotics will do absolutely nothing for.
Therefore, when it comes to expired antibiotics, you should always dispose of any leftover pills or liquid antibiotic prescriptions regardless of the date on the packaging. Antibiotics are one expired medication you dont want to mess with.
At What Age Can I Give My Baby Paracetamol Or Ibuprofen
You can give paracetamol to children aged 2 months or older for pain or fever.
You can give ibuprofen to children who are aged 3 months or older and who weigh more than 5kg .
If your child has asthma, get advice from a GP or pharmacist before giving them ibuprofen.
Do not give aspirin to children under 16 unless it’s prescribed by a doctor. It’s been linked with a rare but dangerous illness called Reye’s syndrome.
If you’re breastfeeding, ask your health visitor, midwife or GP for advice before taking aspirin.
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Which Medications Are Unsafe After Their Expiration Date
There’s really no way to know if a drug is safe unless its tested for potency, but here are some common sense measures:
- Insulin is used to control blood sugar in diabetes and may be susceptible to degradation after its expiration date.
- Oral nitroglycerin , a medication used for angina , may lose its potency quickly once the medication bottle is opened.
- Vaccines, biologicals or blood products could also be subject to quick degradation once the expiration date is reached.
- Tetracycline may produce a toxic metabolite, but this controversial among researchers.8
- Medicines that looks old: powdery or crumbling medicine, drugs with a strong smell, or dried up medicine should always be discarded, expired or not.
- Any injectable medication, especially if cloudy, discolored or with visible floating particles.
What Form Of Antibiotics Will Retain Potency And Efficacy After Expiry
This retaining of potency for antibiotics is true for most solid forms of antibiotics, such as tablets and capsules.
Antibiotics in solution or liquid form will lose their potency and efficacy after expiration and should never be used beyond this point. This is because liquid antibiotics are susceptible to bacterial contamination after reconstituting.
This is suspected to be what happens because of certain nonsterile compounding procedures and the addition of nonsterile water to liquid antibiotics.
Aside from this, expired liquid or solution antibiotic will change its appearance and odor after expiration fairly quickly because of several compositional changes.
Therefore, this would make it more obvious that the liquid or solution form of antibiotics has diminished in potency or efficacy and is therefore not safe to be used after expiry.
Even some solid forms of antibiotics can have a narrow therapeutic index, and so a very minor decrease in pharmacological activity can result in serious consequences for patients.
One such antibiotic is the monoclonal antibodies. Such medications should not be used beyond the expiry date.
So, due to varieties in medications and varying results from different controlled experiments, its debatable whether most antibiotics will retain their potency and efficacy after expiration.
The ability for antibiotics to retain their efficacy after they expire also depends on the conditions they are stored in.
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Antibiotics Are Medications Used For The Treatment Of Bacterial Infections But Long
Antibiotics are medications commonly prescribed by doctors for the treatment of various illnesses. These medications can be either synthesized in the laboratory or produced naturally by other microorganisms. Antibiotics work by inhibiting the growth of bacteria. They are usually prescribed for 7 to 14 days. However, in certain cases, especially in long-term illnesses a prolonged use of antibiotics is recommended, which is normally associated with various side effects. For this reason, it is very important for your healthcare provider to weigh the cons when it comes to side effects of long-term use, as well as the pros.
How To Dispose Of Medications Properly
Its important to properly dispose of medications because drugs found in the trash can be abused.
Official drug take-back programs allow you to give expired medications to a clinic, pharmacy or law enforcement facility usually a police station or fire station.
If a take-back location isnt available, the FDA has a list on its website of medications that are flushable and nonflushable.
Nonflushable medications should be sealed whole, not crushed, in a bag filled with cat litter, used coffee grounds or dirt. This contaminates the medication and makes it undesirable or unusable for people who may abuse them.
Flushable medications on the FDAs flush list include drugs that contain opioids like Demerol, BUTRANS, and morphine. Opioids are highly addictive and can lead to overdose and other dangerous side effects. Its important to get rid of these drugs right away after use so they don’t reach adults or children.
The FDA also recommends that patients scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of the empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging before throwing those away.
You may question the disposal of these drugs and their impact on the environment, but the FDA says these medicines present very little risk to the environment.
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You May Be Tempted To Use Leftover Drugs Originally Prescribed For Friends Family And Even Pets Here’s Why Thats A Terrible Idea
Your head aches your nose is stuffy and your throat is raw. Rummaging around in the medicine cabinet for something to help you feel better, you come across a leftover prescription and wonder: ‘How long do antibiotics last anyway?’ And in that miserable moment of sickness, you figure it can’t hurt and dose yourself with whatever antibiotic you have on hand. A new study shows you aren’t alone.
In fact, one out of four people say that they would use antibiotics without their doctors okay according to a recent survey of 400 patients treated in primary-care clinics in Houston, Texas. And five percent of respondents admitted to doing exactly that in the past year.
In the study, published July 11 in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 14 percent of respondents also told researchers that they keep a stash of antibiotics at home. People who actually used antibiotics without a prescription reported getting them from a variety of sourcesleftovers from a previous illness, friends or family members, or outside the U.S. A few even resorted to taking drugs intended for the family pet.
In most cases, the antibiotics likely didn’t help. People most commonly used the drugs to treat cold and sinus symptoms, which typically clear up without medication.
Whats more, overuse and misuse of antibiotics has promoted the rise of dangerous superbugsstrains of bacteria that have acquired resistance to multiple antibiotic drugs.