April 5, 2011

Medicine Cabinets are NOT for Medicine

Say what?

I was reading one of my favorite blogs - iHeart Organizing - when I saw a guest post written by a pharmacist, Mellissa C., concerning the use of medicine cabinets in bathrooms (primarily bathrooms with showers/tubs). I found some of the information very interesting and helpful.

I recognize that some of you may already know this information, but I thought I'd post it for those of you may not know. You can never be too careful when it comes to safety, especially when children are involved!

I broke the information provided in the article into a little Q&A for ya.

Q: Why shouldn't medicine cabinets be used to store medicine?
Unfortunately medicine cabinets are not meant to store medicine!!! I know, they are sized just right for those prescription bottles, so why wouldn’t you keep all of your medication together all nice and neat in your cabinet that is designed to hold medicine? Because drugs need to be stored in an area where there is low humidity and stable temperature {room temp, never above 77 F} and I don’t know about you, but when I get out of the shower my mirror is foggy. I wouldn’t even trust the fan in the bathroom. Drugs will degrade over time and this is going to make them less effective, but storing them properly is key to getting them to keep their effectiveness until the expiration date on the bottle. Storing them in the bathroom is like putting them through an accelerated degradation process and who wants to take a Tylenol that is only half effective?

Q: If I'm not supposed to store medicine in my medicine cabinet, then where should I store it?
I recommend either your bedroom or your kitchen (but not in cabinets around the stove or the refrigerator because of the heat generated by these appliances). If you have young children I would store them in your kitchen if your bedroom does not have an area where you can be certain your kids can’t get to them. I keep mine in a plastic bin in our pantry, but I also keep a small bin in my closet because we have our bedrooms on a different floor. In my bedroom I keep Tylenol for both adults and kids and some antacids, who wants to run downstairs at 2 am when your little one has a fever? One thing to be aware of, its not just what you get in pill form that is in this category; anything with a panel on the side of it that says Drug Facts and Information and lists an active ingredient as a drug substance needs to be stored properly. Things like Neosporin, Clearasil, Retin-A, etc. have an active ingredient that needs to protected from moisture, light, and temperature fluctuations, however I draw the line at toothpaste because I think that would result in a decrease in the amount people brush their teeth, but toothpaste is a drug.

Q: How often should I clean out my medicine cabinet?
Every 6 months you should look at the labels on your drugs and get rid of everything that is expired. A green way to dispose of your medication to keep it out of our water supply is too get a Ziploc bag and fill it with either kitty litter or your old coffee grounds. Take your pills out of their original container and mix them in with the kitty litter/coffee grounds and seal the bag, then throw away. {If you use kitty litter moisten it with water}. This will deter someone who goes through your garbage from stealing your old meds. Never throw them away in the original bottle. Also while you are cleaning out the expired stuff, toss any leftover antibiotics you have whether they are expired or not! Next time you don’t finish your course of antibiotics throw them away, don’t hang on to them. It is never a good idea to take a couple of pills of an old antibiotic because you aren’t feeling well. This is one of the ways we have gotten antibiotic resistance, which is a big problem and will continue to be one if we don’t take it seriously. Moms, make sure you are tossing what is leftover of the medications that your pharmacist adds water to. Those types of medications are typically only good for 10-21 days and after that they start to go bad. NEVER save your child’s liquid amoxicillin and give it to them 6 months later.

Q: What medicine do you recommend having on hand?
The most important things to have are ibuprofen, acetaminophen {both of these in adult and child form}, thermometer, band aids, first aid ointment {I like triple antibiotic ointment i.e. Neosporin}, oral rehydrating solution, Allegra or Zyrtec, liquid Benadryl, and an antacid. I keep Allegra and Benadryl, even though they are both antihistamines because Allegra is what I would use for seasonal allergies, but if someone where having an allergic reaction I would give them liquid Benadryl {liquid works faster}. These supplies will get you through most at home scenarios. And save yourself some money, buy the store brands. I always buy generic drugs and then I have extra money so I don’t have to buy generic purses and shoes. Generics really do work as well as the brand name.

So, what do you think? Anything new you didn't know before? Personally, I found that information very beneficial.

The article also offered some examples of ways to store medication, including the following:





And I now need to go clean out my medicine cabinet! Do you need to do the same?

Note: To see the full article - You Asked: Dedication to Medication - Click HERE!


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