Prescription and over-the-counter medications each come with long, detailed pamphlets of product warnings, ingredients, and instructions that are easy to discard and ignore. As long as you know how often to take your medication and the substances to avoid to limit harmful interactions, you should have no problems, right? Unfortunately, there is more to proper medication management than simply knowing when to take a pill. Storing your medications correctly is also an important factor in ensuring their safety and effectiveness. Incidentally, one of the worst places you can put your medication is in the medicine cabinet, which may not be the most aptly named storage space in your home. Read on to learn why the medicine cabinet may not be ideal and where you might seek better storage for your prescription and OTC medications.
What’s wrong with the medicine cabinet?
The bathroom medicine cabinet is susceptible to high heat and humidity, which can both be highly damaging to prescription drugs. Extreme temperatures and changes in moisture can alter the chemistry of medication, rendering it less effective, and, in some cases, dangerous to use. Insulin, for example, can become damaged when it is not kept in the refrigerator. If you have diabetes and rely on insulin to maintain stable blood sugar levels, taking damaged injections could be detrimental to your health.
Where can medication be stored safely?
Ideally, most medication should be kept in a dark, dry place with a consistent temperature in the range of 58-86 degrees Fahrenheit. A bedroom drawer or cabinet might offer these conditions, but remember to keep these spaces off limits to children to prevent accidental ingestion. Childproof caps for your medication will also provide a level of protection to limit household emergencies related to prescription drugs. You should also remember to keep medications protected when traveling, keeping them in your carry on while flying, or in the cabin of your vehicle rather than the trunk while driving.
What should you do with expired or improperly stored medications?
If you have had a medication become ruined due to improper conditions, or your medications have expired, you will not want to keep them lying around the house. Any unused medication should be discarded at a police station, hospital, or pharmacy to avoid groundwater contamination from flushing medication or improper use from simply throwing old medicine in the trash.
If you are still not sure how to properly handle your prescription medication, remember that a MeMD physician is available anytime to provide you with an online consultation to discuss proper use of your existing medication or prescribe new medicine for seasonal maladies.