Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What's In Your Medicine Cabinet?

Many of us check the expiration dates of grocery items before serving it, but do you also check the expiration dates on the over-the-counter medicine you've purchased for your family?

I make it a habit of thoroughly organizing our medicine cabinet -- actually a shelf in one of our hall closets because humid conditions could speed up how quickly medicines lose their effectiveness -- each time we have to reset our clocks. That's when I check expiration dates and make a list of what items we'll need. I also quick-check our medicine shelf each time someone in this family gets ill, which seems to be at least once a month.

I don't remember when I started checking expiration dates on medicines. I just remember I started doing that after I took some expired pain reliever for a fever. I didn't have a violent reaction to it, thank goodness (probably because it had only been three months since it expired), but the ibuprofen I took didn't help relieve my pain at all. Since then I've become more vigilant in checking our health supplies.

In addition to checking expiration dates for oral medication, I also periodically check expiration dates of ointments I keep in the house, such as Co*rtaid and Neo*sporin.

So what should you keep in a medicine closet? The following is a list of recommended items from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. I keep my medicines and my first-aid supplies in separate plastic bins. I also keep my child's medicines in a separate basket.

--Analgesic (relieves pain)
--Antibiotic ointment (reduces risk of infection)
--Antacid (relieves upset stomach)
--Antihistamine (relieves allergy symptoms)
--Decongestant (relieves stuffy nose and other cold symptoms)
--Fever reducer (adult and child)
--Hydrocortisone (relieves itching and inflammation)
--Antiseptic (helps stop infection)

--Adhesive bandages
--Adhesive tape
--Gauze pads
--Calibrated measuring spoon
--Alcohol wipes

Always remember to read label instructions before taking or giving any medication. If in doubt, call your pharmacist or your physician. Just Mom is not a doctor. I just play one at home.


Anonymous said...

Great tips!!! And I LOVE the last line... LOL

MorningSong said...

Definitely a great idea!! I am just remembering that I used some ointment on my daughter a few weeks ago and since then she hasn't felt well. (I wonder if that is a connection?) After we used it the lady told me the ointment was in the first aid kit in her car for years. I had SOOO wished I had that information PRIOR to using it on my daughter. Great advice!

Anonymous said...

Yup, I went through my meds when we moved last month. I won't divulge the true number of meds that expired TWO YEARS ago for fear of total embarrassment!

I also keep a small kit in my car. I usually grab samples of things like Children's Claritin and Triaminic when I'm leaving the pediatrician's office. I also keep some Bandaids, ointment, Cortizone cream and pain reliever in there as well. I know that hot glove compartment (in the summer at least) isn't the best place for some liquids, so I try to keep tablets and quick dissolve meds instead.

Anonymous said...

Here's a LINK to info on expired meds.

Bottom line is that most just lose their effectiveness. And they say the best place to store is in your bedroom-- NOT bathroom or kitchen! I imagine they would cringe at my glove compartment. :) But there really are only a few emergency things in there-- promise!

Jonatha said...

I admit, I'm one of those people who stores their medicine in a bathroom cabinet. However - we go threw them so quickly they never end up making a home there. I usually buy smaller sizes for that exact reason. I think it is a great idea for the expiration date "check" on the time change! Thanks :)

Amber said...

Because of the space we don't store our medicine in the bathroom but I never realized it's NOT the ideal place. Thanks Dr. Just Mom!

0:) Amber

Teresa said...

you know i recently went through all our old meds and through them out , however I am a nurse and most expired meds in pill form usually only loose 10 % of their potency for every year outdated. and since I removed most milk products and give my daughter digestive enzymes and acidophyllis with vit c we do not have to have the claritin