Does Allergy Medicine Expire Yes But It May Still Be Effective
- Allergy medicine expires, but it may still be effective for up to two or more years after the expiration date.
- Liquid allergy medicine, such as nasal sprays, tend to expire earlier than antihistamine tablets, and they will lose effectiveness more quickly after expiring.
- This article was medically reviewed by Omid Mehdizadeh, MD, otolaryngologist and laryngologist at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute’s Pacific Eye, Ear & Skull Base Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA.
- This story is part of Insider’s guide to Seasonal Allergies.
Yes, allergy medicine will expire eventually. However, depending on the type of medication, you may still get some relief after the expiration date has passed.
Over-the-counter and prescription antihistamine tablets tend to stay effective longer than liquid medicines, such as corticosteroid nasal sprays.
Here’s what you need to know about when the different types of allergy medicine expire and how long after they may still be effective to take.
Don’t Keep Kids’ Meds
“Because children are smaller and their metabolic systems aren’t fully developed, I wouldn’t hang on to kids’ meds past the expiration dates,” says Dr. Langevin. “Plus, a lot of medications for children are prepared in suspensions so the kids will take them, and those flavored liquids can decompose and acquire bacterial growth.”
Because Probiotics Are Alive It’s Best To Use Them As Soon As Possible
Because probiotics are alive, they can become far less effective over time or if they’re improperly stored.
“Probiotics are living bacteria and will be subject to inactivity over time. It’s best to them discard based on the manufacturer’s guideline, which is usually one year,” Langdon said.
To keep your probiotics fresh and effective, store them in a cool place away from sunlight. Some probiotics should be kept in the refrigerator.
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Disposing Of Expired Pills
- The first is to check the label of the medication to determine if there are any specific instructions for disposal.
- If there arent specific instructions, there are many government-operated drug take-back programs that are publicly available.
- If you cant find one of these programs in your area, you can throw medicine in the trash, but try to mix it with something like coffee grounds before throwing it away.
- Also, before you do dispose of expired pills, check to make sure that the FDA doesnt classify them as drugs that should be flushed rather than thrown out.
Can Taking Out Of Date Pills Hurt You
In their opinion, its best not to take any over-the-counter drugs that have expired, but both say to use your best judgment if you have a large amount of medication. It is unlikely that you will be hurt by the medicine after its expiration date, but if it does, it will be less effective for a week or a month or even up to a year.
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Can You Build A Tolerance To An Allergy
An allergen, such as pollen, is something that can cause allergy symptoms in people. When you are allergic to something, your body identifies it as tolerance and intolerance. It is possible to lose tolerance to something and have allergy symptoms after exposure, or it is possible to develop tolerance and not have allergy symptoms after exposure to something.
How Long Can You Take Medicine After The Expiration Date
Drs. Vogel and Supe agree its good not to take any over-the-counter drug thats expired, though both say to use your best judgment if you have a stockpile of meds. A week or a month, or even up to a year, after the expiration date probably wont hurt you, the medicine will just be less effective. Just because the expiration date has passed, doesnt mean the medication is immediately uselessbut thats different for every medication.
The molecule breakdown is not linear and not the same from molecule to molecule, Dr. Supe says. Therefore, there is no blanket statement as to when something is too expired.
That being said, a research team may have found information to debate expiration dates. On a study of 14 unopened medications that were all between 28 and 40 years expired, researchers found 86% of them retained at least 90% of the active drug. Still, though, because these results cant be guaranteed with medication thats already been opened or stored in less-than-optimal conditions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesnt support taking expired drugs.
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Benadryl For Nausea Or Motion Sickness
Over-the-counter Benadryl products arent approved to treat symptoms of motion sickness. However, Benadryl is often used to treat these symptoms.
Benadryl is often effective for reducing symptoms of motion sickness, but it can cause sleepiness. Other medications are considered a first-choice treatment for people who need to relieve motion sickness but want to stay awake while traveling.
If you get symptoms of motion sickness, talk with your doctor about treatment options before you travel.
Q: How Bad Is It To Take Medicine That’s Past Its Expiration Date
It’s really not a good idea to take expired medication at all.
The company that manufactures a particular drug works with the regulatory authority to confirm and guarantee that the medicine will still be active in the amount on the label up to expiration time. After that, there’s no guarantee that it wont decay or become ineffective.
Less potent cold medicine is obviously not ideal, but this becomes much more dangerous when youre talking about prescription drugs, such as antibiotics, insulin, epinephrine auto-injectors or cardiac medications. These drugs have what we call a narrow therapeutic window, which means you need the exact amount of medicine, in the prescribed dosageand the effect of not receiving that exact dosage could be life-threatening.
For example, a number of years ago, an antibiotic caused kidney damage when it was taken after the expiration date because it had decayed into a different chemical composition. That medication has since been changed, but that type of risk may still exist with others.
Manufacturers test their medicines over a range of consistent temperature and humidity levels. The expiry date reflects those conditions, which is why its important to store your medication according to the instructions provided on the bottle or by your pharmacist.
Dr. Aran Maree, Chief Medical Officer, Janssen PharmaceuticalsShare
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When Is The Best Time To Take Aerius
AERIUS® lasts 24-hours so it can be taken at any time of day. If you forget to take it at the same time, dont worry, just take the dose when you remember. Do not exceed more than one dose in 24 hours.
AERIUS® Double Action 12 Hour should be taken every twelve hours for continuous symptom relief, but the time of day is not known to be important. If you miss taking your dose on time, do not worry take your dose when you remember. Do not exceed more than one dose in 12 hours.
Do Expired Medications Lose Their Potency
The best evidence that some drugs can last past their expiration date is from the Shelf Life Extension Program undertaken by the FDA for the Department of Defense.2,7,11
The original purpose of the SLEP program was twofold: to determine the actual shelf life of stockpiled military medications for future use, and to save government dollars.5
Also, testing reported in The Medical Letter in 2015 showed that many medications were still potent decades beyond their expiration dates. The authors note that there are no published reports of human toxicity due to ingestion, injection, or topical application of a current drug formulation after its expiration date.11
These results suggest that many drug products may have extended shelf lives beyond their expiration date. However, it is difficult for any one consumer or health care provider to know which product could have an extended shelf life.
The ability for a drug to have an extended shelf life would be dependent upon the actual drug ingredients, presence of preservatives, temperature fluctuations, light, humidity, and other storage conditions. Additionally, the drug lots tested in the SLEP program were kept in their original packaging. Once a drug is repackaged into another container, as often happens in the pharmacy, the shelf-life could decline due to environmental variations.3
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Is It Bad To Take Two Claritin Pills
If you miss one dose, do not take more than one dose in 24 hours. If you miss another, do not take a double dose. When you miss a dose, seek advice from your doctor or pharmacist. Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.
Benadryl And Other Medications
Below is a list of medications that can interact with Benadryl. This list doesnt contain all drugs that may interact with Benadryl.
Different drug interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some can interfere with how well a drug works, while others can cause increased side effects.
If you take other medications, talk with your pharmacist before taking Benadryl. Your pharmacist can help you avoid potential interactions.
Anticholinergic drugs block the action of acetylcholine, a chemical that relays messages between cells in your body. Benadryl also blocks acetylcholine. Because anticholinergic drugs and Benadryl work in the same way, taking them together can increase the risk of side effects. Examples of these drugs include:
Benadryl and Xanax
Xanax is a type of drug called a benzodiazepine, which can cause sleepiness. Taking Xanax with Benadryl can increase your risk of excessive sleepiness. This can make you too sleepy to drive or prevent you from doing other potentially dangerous activities safely.
If you take Xanax, talk with your doctor before taking Benadryl. They may recommend other treatment options.
Benadryl and Zoloft
Zoloft is an antidepressant that can cause sleepiness in some people who take it. Taking Zoloft with Benadryl may increase the risk of excessive sleepiness. This can make you too sleepy to drive or prevent you from doing other potentially dangerous activities safely.
Benadryl and Zyrtec
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Allergy Medicine In Tablet Form Can Be Used For Over Decade After Opening
If you have expired antihistamines hanging around in your medicine cabinet, they’re probably still effective.
“Diphenhydramine, a common antihistamine, was studied to last almost 15 years in the tablet form,” Langon said, but added that “liquid OTC antihistamines should be discarded on their expiration date.”
Most drug companies test for effectiveness only for the first two to three years after opening, which is why labels rarely list a later expiration date.
In Most Cases The Expiration Date On Medication Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does
The expiration date on the packaging of OTC and prescription drugs doesn’t necessarily reflect when the product expires.
“The vast majority of medications maintain most of their potency years after the posted expiration date. That date is the date after which full potency cannot be guaranteed by the manufacturer,” emergency-medicine specialist Dr. Jack Springer told INSIDER.
“The expiration date doesn’t really indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use,” Springer said. “Medical authorities state if expired medicine is safe to take, even those that expired years ago.”
There are exceptions some medications and drug types undergo changes during extended storage that can compromise their safety or effectiveness. Liquid medications and some antibiotics are among these.
Keeping in mind that most OTC medications in tablet or capsule form are safe to use for many years after their expiration date, here are some guidelines on how to manage the drugs in your medicine cabinet.
Disposing Of Pills And Patches
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration hosts National Prescription Drug Take Back Day twice a year, usually each April and October. Designated law enforcement agencies across the U.S. will allow you to drop off expired, unused prescription pills and patches so they can be safely disposed.
To find an agency near you that is participating in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, use the Collection Site Locator.
The agencies will only take pills, tablets, capsules, patches or other solid forms of prescription medicines. They cannot take needles, sharps, inhalers, liquids, or illegal drugs. This includes liquid nebulizer medicine and epinephrine auto-injectors.
What Does A Drugs Expiration Date Mean
Every medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, has an expiration date. And similar to the expiration dates on food, if you ingest it after that date, the results can be a little dicey. Scientifically speaking, says Reed Supe, Pharm.D., a pharmacist in Alaska, a drugs expiration date is when the active ingredient has lost 10% of its potency. Those dates can be a bit conservative, though, because theyre meant to ensure that the drug product is fully effective and safe to use for its entire shelf life. After that date, the chemical components of the drug may change in unexpected ways, rendering the drug unusable.
Lisa Vogel, Pharm.D., a pharmacist who works at a hospital in Illinois, notes that hospitals will never give expired medication, even if its an hour past the date and time listed on the drug.
When we compound something, it has a beyond use date, and that is a date and a time specific to the particular drug, she says. Those are strict guidelines.
At home, though, the situation gets a bit more fuzzy. Carl Rauch, RPh, a pharmacist in Wisconsin, says to never take anything thats expiredpotency and safety cannot be determined after the date, he says, and with allergy medicine in particular, the side effects could get worse even as the full potency declines.
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How To Use Antihistamine Oral
This medication may be taken with food if stomach upset occurs. Drink plenty of fluids unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
If you are using the liquid form of this medication, carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose. If your liquid form is a suspension, shake the bottle well before each dose.
Do not crush or chew extended-release tablets or capsules. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects. Also, do not split extended-release tablets unless they have a score line and your doctor or pharmacist tells you to do so. Swallow the whole or split tablet without crushing or chewing.
If you are using chewable tablets, chew each tablet thoroughly before swallowing.
If you are using a product made to dissolve in the mouth , dry your hands before handling the medication. Place each dose on the tongue and allow to dissolve completely, then swallow it with saliva or with water.
Dosage is based on the product you are taking and your age, medical condition, and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or take this medication more often than directed without your doctor’s approval. Improper use of this medication may result in serious harm .
Getting The Most From Your Treatment
- Most people only need to take an antihistamine for a short while when they have symptoms. You should stop taking loratadine once your symptoms have eased.
- Although loratadine is classed as a non-drowsy antihistamine, it can still cause drowsiness in a few people. If you are affected by drowsiness, do not drive, do not use a bicycle, and do not use tools or machines.
- If you drink alcohol while you are taking loratadine, be aware of its effects on you and do not drink more than moderate amounts. Alcohol can increase the risk of experiencing side-effects from antihistamines – for instance, you may feel more drowsy than usual.
- If you are having an operation, or any treatment or tests , make sure you say that you are taking an antihistamine.
- If you buy any medicines ‘over the counter’, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with an antihistamine. This is because a number of other medicines can increase the risk of side-effects.
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Go Through Your Medicine Cabinet Once A Year
The American Medical Association recommends cleaning out your medicine cabinet once a year. It may be tempting, if you’re the organized type, to decant frequently used drugs into labeled, matching bottles, but don’tkeeping pills in their original containers guards against confusion and is thus safer, says Negrete. However, do take those cotton balls out of bottles they hasten decomposition.
When Do Antihistamines Expire
Antihistamines, one of the main types of allergy medicine, can be safe to use after the expiration date.
For over-the-counter medicines like Claritin and Zyrtec, the listed expiration dates are typically around two and a half years after manufacturing. Expiration dates for prescription antihistamines are around one year, according to New Jersey-based pharmacist Kristin Frank.
OTC and prescription tablets are similar in makeup, and therefore can last the same amount of time. But prescriptions, , cannot have longer than one-year expiration dates.
All allergy medicines are regulated by the FDA, which takes a strict, no-leeway stance on expired medicine for utmost safety and effectiveness. But a 2012 study in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal found that expired medicines, including antihistamines, can remain effective for decades.
The researchers studied the active ingredients in a set of decades-old drugs. Twelve of the 14 medications tested, including the antihistamine, retained full potency for at least 28 years. So why do antihistamines have a one-to-two-year shelf life?
According to Frank, manufacturers suggest expiration dates based on how long the active ingredients can stay potent. Manufacturers submit this research, which factors in storage variables like heat and humidity, when applying for drug approval to the FDA.
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