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Give Your Medicine Cabinet A Makeover For The New Year

What to Throw Out:

  • Expired products: Once the cabinet is clean and empty, check the expiration dates on all products including prescriptions, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins, contraceptives (including condoms and spermicides), herbs and supplements. Remember to check products you may keep in the refrigerator, in the bedroom, in the kitchen, and in your first aid kits. Throw out all expired products, even if they've never been opened or the package is still full. Remember also that while cosmetics don't usually carry expiration dates, there are health risks to using certain products for too long, especially those in the eye area. For example, mascara should be changed every six months, regardless of how often you actually use it.

  • "Old" prescriptions for conditions you no longer have: The biggest culprit here are half completed prescriptions of antibiotics from incomplete courses of therapy. Do not save these "just in case" you get another infection so that you can self medicate. If you have an illness serious enough to take antibiotics, you are ill enough to see a physician. First of all, you may have a viral illness for which antibiotics will do nothing. Next, even if you need an antibiotic, you may need a different one: they are not all interchangeable! Finally, the number of days needed to treat different infections may differ. You may do yourself more harm than good by taking an incomplete course of therapy.
What to Put Back in Your Medicine Cabinet:

When restocking your medicine cabinet, give some thought to what really needs to be there. A big part of this decision will depend upon how big it is, what other storage space you have available, the location of the medicine cabinet, how many medicines you and your family members routinely take, and what else you like to store there (e.g. make-up, facial cleansers, first aid products, etc.).

Even though most products in your medicine cabinet will be OTC products, when added up, they can be costly. The good news is that most of these products are available in less costly, generic form. Taste and dosage form may differ, however.

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 Keeping your medication in the ideal locations can maximize safety and also improve compliance. 

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