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The Dangers of Expired Medications

Run out medications are commonplace and inertia notwithstanding, many of us tend to rely on an intuitive sense of their value in carrying on to store and use them. Such drugs can be harmful to health in several ways; they can be unpredictable in effectiveness, just ineffective, or even toxic.

The formal way of classifying a medication as having expired is through it's branded expiry date. This date is often set based on a combination of the common properties of the dosage form as well as the stability and additionally expiration studies of the product that have been conducted by the manufacturer. Importantly, this expiry date is contingent on certain storage conditions of the product. Although a medication may pass it's labeled expiry date, it may not necessarily get any less effective or dangerous to consume depending on the product itself, the storage conditions and the circumstances leading up to expiration.

When most medications pass their expiry date under appropriate storage conditions, they are generally taken to have become which means that variable in effectiveness as to have become unsuitable for use. This often comes about as a result of the degradation of the substances of the medication with exposure to physical, chemical or microbiological variables like temperature, pressure, humidity, light, bacteria and various components of the product known as excipients.

Creams may "crack" once their expiry date is passed, leading to a split up of the components and hence provide a nonuniform delivery of active ingredients. This can lead to the poor control of conditions like eczema or acne. Tablet medications can mechanically "powder" off, change in consistency with exposure to water vapor or simply experience the contained drug itself becoming ineffective on prolonged exposure to air as occurs with glyceryl trinitrate, a critical medicine that can easily become ineffective in relieving acute symptoms of chest pain. With common injections, if the acidity change to fall outside a fairly narrow range, significant pain and tissue damage can result from use. Using most eye drops, an expiry date of one month after opening is accepted to minimize the potential for damaging bacterial contamination.

With any medication, once a specific threshold of remaining active ingredient is passed, the medication can no longer come to be relied upon to deliver accurate doses. This loss of reliability is often exacerbated by the fact that the active ingredients can lower into various combinations of active, inactive or toxic breakdown products. The common aspirin is for instance, known to take action with moisture to breakdown into salicylic acid, which is active, and acetic acid, which is inactive and can trigger toxicity in excess.

While the expiry date provides a useful gauge of when to stop using a medication, there are also many other variables that can informally accelerate the expiry of a medication and make it dangerous to use, chief among which is how the prescribed medication is stored. It is oftentimes not just the medication that is affected by storage conditions but also the storage container. With inappropriate storage conditions, certain containers can leech material into liquid medication preparations, or medication particles may well stick to the container rather than remain separated. On average, a 10 degree rise in temperature doubles the charge of chemical reactions that occur to a medication product and can accelerate the rate of bacterial contamination several times. Just like an ice cream can simply melt or a loaf of bread becomes mouldy much quicker if not refrigerated, several medication products can easily expire much faster when not stored appropriately.

With oral liquid and topical medications, potentially perilous changes associated with expiry can at times be detected by color or consistency changes, component separations, altered stench or taste (oral preparations). Should a suspicion of expiry arise, a medication expert should be consulted even though or not the labeled expiry date has been passed.

"Expiry" should also be understood to occur once a method to obtain medications is no longer used appropriately for it's intended purpose. Consultation with a medication expert is always advised to counteract the inappropriate use of existing medication supplies. Inappropriate use can often occur with self-medication and is harmful. An incomplete supply of a previously used antibiotic may be tried to treat a new infection that is actually untreatable by or resistant compared to that antibiotic. This practice may not only delay recovery but can also encourage the proliferation of "super bugs" which happen to have resistance to many antibiotics. Another incorrect purpose involves sharing medications and this can be especially harmful if another is hypersensitive to the shared medication or a child or pet is medicated with an adult's medication. Children often require serving adjustments to accommodate their size while many human drugs are often unsuitable for pets. Even a simple food like chocolates that we may enjoy can easily be toxic to a pet dog. Learn more here Knee pain

Another mechanism whereby medication expiry is unsafe occurs when an unfinished supply is used despite new information that points to increased precautions associated with the remedy or that has led to it's recall. An example is obtaining pain relief from a previous supply of a painkiller like Vioxx (rofecoxib) or Celebrex (celecoxib) in spite of an existing heart condition that is now known to relate to an increased risk of death under those circumstances of consumption.

Expired medications that are kept instead of discarded not only take up space but may actually discourage the appropriate use of new supplies in the treatment of illness. A medication cabinet, if not tended to habitually, could eventually contain more expired medications than viable ones and this can lead to the accidental consumption of an ended medication in place of a viable one. It is definitely advisable to clear the medication cabinet of expired medicaitons at least annually if not more often.

A further danger however , lies in how expired medications are disposed of. Expired medications in addition to pharmaceutical byproducts can be harmful to the environment especially when they end up in our rivers and drinking water supply. Hormonal compounds enjoy estrogen from birth control pills and patches as well as antibiotics have been linked to being flushed by individuals and associations into sewage, draining largely unchanged and collecting in rivers and streams, then returning in tiny concentrations into drinking water. Traces of antibiotics could worsen bacterial resistance while estrogens and other steroids are known to switch the reproductive characteristics of fish. Even trace amounts of chemotherapy medications have emerged in tap water and this may be severely detrimental to the unborn babies of pregnant women who drink such water. The long-term impact on human wellness of medications in our rivers and drinking water is as yet unknown but no one would want to wait to find out. We can just about all play our part by inquiring on and using pharmacy or state-run programs for the disposal of terminated medications instead of sending them down the sink or the toilet bowl.

A pharmacist is the expert of choice to help approach in handling medication expiry and should be consulted if in doubt. As a general rule, it is always best to safeguard ones own health and that of those around you by expeditiously and appropriately discarding all expired medications.

When to Take Your Medication

Timing your medication appropriately can be crucial to the success of any treatment regime whether it be to cure a life-threatening condition or simply to alleviate troublesome symptoms.

When best to take a medication depends on the active ingredient, what product form this medication is in, the nature and severity of the condition to be diagnosed, prevented or treated, as well as individual diet and lifestyle. That detailing that your doctor or pharmacist provides often centers on maximizing the effectiveness and safety of the medications.

Getting as much of the active ingredient to be absorbed into the body can be an important goal of correctly timing your prescription medication. Some medication is better absorbed when taken with meals or specific foods while the absorption of others is usually inhibited when taken in the same way. Extremely little of an osteoporosis medication like Fosamax (alendronate) already ever enters the body, let alone reaches the bones, under fasting conditions from a single dose. This medication needs to be taken by means of plain water and without food or other drink, weekly on the same day in an upright position upon primary rising. Already more than 99% of a single dose will be excreted out of the body under such conditions and if your medication is taken with food or at other times during the day, the amount absorbed can be further reduced just by half or more.

Some medications may be safer to take with food rather than on an empty stomach. In better showing the long-term safety of a painkiller class of medications known as NSAIDs, it may be advisable to avoid taking the drugs aspirin for instance, on an empty stomach and to either take the medication with or after food or with an antacid.

Active ingredients can require a specific dose and timing strategy to be most effective. This is especially so with regard to different types of antibiotics in treating infections. An antibiotic medication like cloxacillin may require four times a day dosing not to lose effective blood levels in treating a skin infection while ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic of a another class that will acts differently, may only require once or twice a day dosing to treat a urinary tract infection.

The product form may well play an important role in when and how often a medication is taken. Long-acting, delayed or sustained relieve preparations can work to release the active ingredients of a medication product differently or consistently throughout a day allowing the medicine to be therapeutic despite being dosed only once instead of multiple times in a day. In managing blood pressure for instance, chronotherapeutic medication has been developed to work in tandem with the body's natural circadian rhythms and in effect, to best sport fishing tackle the peak blood pressure that tends to occur upon awakening. Innopran XL (propranolol) can be taken just once during the night time before sleeping. Technology allows the release of the medication's active ingredient four hours after taking it, with causing peak blood levels that coincide with the morning spike in blood pressure.

The nature of a medical condition can also be an aid to determine when it is best to take a particular medication. Cholesterol is synthesized by the body, often during sleep in the night consequently the arising notion that it may be most advantageous to dose cholesterol-lowering medication like Zocor (simvastatin) or Mevacor (lovastatin) in the evenings. Conditions like migraine, fever and gout may have acute symptoms that occur unpredictably and may often require medicating regardless of the time of day.

Incorporating individual diet and lifestyle patterns often facilitates compliance with taking medication and may also be crucial to effectively treating a chronic condition like diabetes without unduly reducing quality of life. To best regulate the condition, insulin injections may be administered as well as oral medication taken before, with or after food to coincide with specific anticipated spikes in blood sugar levels. In consultation with the treating doctor, oral medication may be timed along with meals or scheduled for consumption either consistently in the morning or the night to facilitate lifestyle and compliance.

As soon as specific medications are used to moderate elements of diet and nutrition, taking these consistently with meals can be crucial for you to treatment success. A weight-loss medication like Xenical (orlistat) is often best taken with meals or times with food intake that involve the most consumption of fats as these get bound by the medication and are passed out from the overall body. The cholesterol-reducing medications colestipol and cholestyramine also act in a similar way and are best taken with meals.

Timing medicines for best outcomes can be especially important when having to take five or more medications consistently. In such cases known as polypharmacy, it becomes increasingly important not just to match medicating with specific time slots before, with or after foodstuff, but also to space out the different medications appropriately so as to avoid negative interactions that could lead to ineffective medicating or simply direct harm to health.

In timing your medication, discuss the various considerations with both your treating doctor together with pharmacist. This will optimize a safe and effective medication regime and better your treatment outcomes.

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