It's the New Year and what better time than to clean out your medicine cabinet. I always amaze myself at what I find in my own medicine cabinet, and I am a doctor and should know better! Everyone should clean out their medicines as least once a year because prescription drugs and over the counter products have expiration dates. Check all prescription drugs especially the ones you do not use on a regular basis. You want to make sure they are not expired when you need them. Medications like inhalers and epinephrine pens may be needed in an emergency so now is the time to check their expiration date. I know some people like to "hoard" old antibiotics by saving a few...just in case. Two problems: #1 antibiotics are usually prescribed for a specific amount of time and should be taken until completed, and #2 antibiotics also expire and become ineffective. Over the counter medications also have expiration dates. This is a good time to check the dates on the acetaminophen and ibuprofen products that you use to treat fevers. Don't forget steroid creams and ointments. The tube of dried up antibiotic or steroid is not going to be effective if you can't even squeeze it! Once the cabinet is cleaned out what should you do with the old drugs? Check with your local pharmacy about programs where they will dispose of expired medications in the proper manner. Many pharmacies offer this service for their customers. Once you get in the habit you can start each new year with a clean and up to date medicine cabinet - I am doing the same thing! I'm Dr. Sue with The Kid's Doctor helping parents take charge.
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