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Can Expired Medication Cause Harm?

It’s important for medical staff like pharmacists to communicate instructions when providing prescriptions to people in Texas. On pertinent piece of information is the medication’s date of expiration. While many people don’t take these dates seriously, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration explains how taking expired medication can cause harm.

Decreased Potency

One major issue posed by expired medication is the altered chemical composition that occurs over time. Even if medicine doesn’t necessarily cause harm it may not be as effective for treating the medical condition it was prescribed for, which can lead to worsening symptoms. This can be a very serious concern when taking antibiotics, which may be incapable of treating infection once the date of expiration has based. Expired epi-pens are also problematic, as they’re needed to stop potentially lethal inflammation of the airways.

Potential for Bacteria Growth

Bacterial growth is another valid concern when medicine passes its expiration date. In some cases, bacteria may be toxic, especially to people with compromised immune systems. Bacteria can also increase anti-biotic properties of medicine, which contributes to anti-biotic resistance. While proper storage can reduce this occurrence, once you’ve exceeded the expiration date there’s no real way to know a medication is still safe.

How to Dispose of Expired Medication

Proper disposal of prescription meds is important to prevent accidental ingestion. However, different types of medications must be disposed of in different ways; some can be mixed with dirt or coffee grounds and placed in a sealed container and thrown into the trash. With others you’re instructed to flush the medication into the toilet. This is usually reserved for powerful medicines that entail a risk a overdose.

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