As you are spring cleaning your home, one place you do not want to neglect is your medicine cabinet. Dr. Imran Ali with Bridgeport Hospital explains why it is so important to go through your medications and supplements.
Is it safe to use a medicine beyond its expiration date, do we have to to throw it away?
Dr. Ali: The expiration date on medicines dates back to a law in 1979. This date just means that the drug’s full potency is guaranteed by that date. In general just because a drug is expired it doesn’t mean it is unsafe to use. I would say that you should use the drug within 6 months at the most. Certain drugs once expired have to be thrown out and these include Nitroglycerin for chest pain, any liquid drugs and Insulin.
I had a little cold and it was just like when I had a sinus infection can I take the left over antibiotics I have?
Dr. Ali : When you see left over antibiotics , just get rid of them because they are not useful. First of all you should not have any “left overs” because once an antibiotic is prescribed you need to complete the entire course or else the bacteria become resistant. If you stop your antibiotic course because you feel well, you end up missing that stray bacteria that survive and then become resistant when you get sick again. Also you need to be evaluated and prescribed a full new course. A lot of times I see a patient starting with 2 doses of say amoxicillin and then waiting because they only had 2 left over pills meanwhile they needed to be on an entirely different antibiotic. Any left overs just throw them out.
I have a ton of vitamins, do I really need all of them?
Dr. Ali: There is a role for vitamins for sure and although we out to get most of our essential vitamins from the food we eat, I often tell my patients to take a multivitamin. As with everything though too much can’t always be good. Vitamin toxicity is rare but frankly if you eat well chances are that you do not need extra vitamins on top of your regular multivitamin. There is a lot of talk about Vitamin D out there and your doctor may check your levels but a key vitamin that we really need is Vitamin B12 and it is involved in nerve function and less of it can be a case of anemia. Your Vitamin B12 levels can be especially low if you are Vegetarian or on a Vegan diet. Your medicine cabinet may have a lot of herbs that you may take such as Ginkgo but remember these supplements haven’t been really studied and they could actually interact with your other medications. In fact high dose Garlic supplements can increase your risk of bleeding for example.