The statistics gathered by the American Food and Drug Administration shows an alarming tendency. The users of prescription medications tend to expose these to light, water, and oxygen; the three substances associated with life in most humans, yet being the enemies when it comes to prescription medications. It the following article, we will see what are the best strategies to store your prescription meds.
Is it all right to store medications in the bathroom meds-cabinet?
The answer is categorically, no. The popular place to store medications, which is a bathroom, is the space where humidity reigns. After each time you took your shower, evaporated water begins to seep in everywhere in the bathroom, including your cabinet, however firmly it is shut. Humidity is a sure destructive factor in killing active components in your medications. Even when you simply turn the hot water faucet, you let moisture out and it will find its way to the cabinet you store your meds in. It is simple to remember to avoid any moisture-breeding places, if you consider the fact that this is moisture which is responsible for breaking down your pills, only it happens in your guts when you absorb meds for your own good.
Let’s figure out what is the proper space to store medications
What is the proper place to store your meds will be? Let’s start with the essential components that make up a place for storing your meds a comfortable environment for them.
Check the three following components:
- Away from light,
- Shielded from outdoor weather.
Now let’s see where you can find this combination in your average home environment? Let’s look at the bedroom. If you have a well-locked cabinet drawer, this can be a good solution. Especially if it is a drawer that you would use specifically for storing medications. Proceed to the kitchen. It’s easy to find a locking cabinet in any kitchen. You need to pay attention so that the kitchen cabinet wouldn’t be situated above a stove or above or near the sink. You need to secure your meds cabinet and make sure heat and steam wouldn’t spread moisture nearby.
What about the fridge?
Generally refrigerator is not a perfect solution for your medications. The exception to the rule is when your medication must be stored in the cold. It is usually said so on the label of the medication. While the fridge as a storing place answers the coolness criterion, it is also a place where moisture breeds. Also, if you have little children with an access to the fridge, they can easily reach medications and even give them a try occasionally.
Getting back to labels written in small letters on a meds’ pack. It is a good idea to familiarize with the requirements for each medication. Just to give you a clue: if we take insulin, it is mandatory to store it in the cold before opening. After you opened it, insulin may be kept un-refrigerated as long as it’s away from heatwaves and light. How long it can be kept un-refrigerated may differ depending on the particular type of insulin.
To keep your children safe, keep prescription medications and all vitamins completely out of reach and in a key-locked cabinet. Children are prone to scale cabinets often driven by sheer curiosity alone, while the vivid colors of vitamins and nutritional supplements’ coatings remind them of candies and other desired objects. For this reason, vitamins, especially containing iron (and most multivitamins do so) must be kept away from children at all times. To illustrate the gravity of the above, here is the statistics: In the United States, 30 percent of children’s deaths from medications are caused by iron that is contained in supplements.
What would be the best solution for pills?
If you have little kids or have guests who bring the kids over to your place, the first thing you need to look at as far as medications, is that they are in childproof special containers. Try to test these, they are usually hard to handle even for adults, let alone for children.
For your own good, store medications only in their original packs. It is common to move pills from a larger-sized container to a smaller-sized one, but don’t do it. They become indistinguishable, and you can easily mistake one for another, seriously jeopardizing your health program. The risk factor here also the expiration dates, that usually vary from med to med, and “special” medications, containing chemicals that require special conditions. Think nitrate-containing medications, for example. Once these are exposed to oxygen, the active ingredient quickly evaporates.
Where to store prescription medications while travelling?
If you are driving and need medications at hand, don’t put them in the glove compartment, where medications could be exposed to the heat, cold, or even rain either outside or inside the car from the heater or an air conditioner system. If you are taking an airplane, it’s always a good idea to take medications in your carry-on, while never leaving them for luggage. Cargo facilities where checked luggage is stored during your flight may not have proper temperature conditions.
Make sure to take medications in their original containers so that security personnel can identify that what you’re taking are prescribed by your doctor. Take meds in a clear plastic bag so you can easily declare them. Even though airport security personnel may screen for sharp objects, it is permissible for patients with diabetes to take insulin, lancets, and needles that are needed to check blood sugar levels. If you are diabetic, make sure to always take copies of your prescriptions and a letter explaining your condition signed by your physician (this is not mandatory, but it will make things easier for you). The letter should describe your medications regimen and list all devices&instruments you use, like syringes, etc. Make sure to have enough medications or insulin so they would be sufficient for the whole trip.
It’s handy to make use of a dispenser to ration out your dosages. In case of emergency, the original containers may save your life, because people who would try to take care of you can quickly identify the right pills and help you administering them in the timely manner.
How long should I keep my prescribed medications?
First of all, check out the expiration date on a package. If the said date has passed, dispose of these medications at once. If your physician advised you to stop taking a medicine, follow this advice obediently. Never take medicines that have hard-to-read labels (worn out or written in the language you don’t understand completely).
Use common sense to help weed out harmful meds from needful ones. If you have a potion of mysterious fluid that was taken from an un-labelled bottle, never use it. If pills are obviously discolored, have spots on them, smell like you think they should not smell, immediately dispose of them. Last but not least, if medications for chronic illnesses got wet, go to your pharmacist and make a replacement before you dispose of them. A lot of pharmacies will agree to expedite emergency orders.
How medicines should be disposed of properly?
The pharmaceutical waste is present in the water we drink and some medications can be potentially dangerous for the environment we live in. There are no special waste plants that are designed to annihilate medications waste from the sewage systems. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy issues the simple guide on how to dispose of un-used, un-needed, or expired medications:
- Separate the medications and the container/ package, while throwing the former in the trash.
- Before doing so, mix the medications with coffee grounds or pets litter, and seal them in a regular plastic bag before wasting them in a bin, so no one of the right mind would be tempted to try them.
- Erase the titles/names of all pills on containers/packages/bottles you’re throwing in the trash.
The federal guidelines recommend to not flush medications. The exception to this guidelines is if the instructions direct to flush them (for example, this goes for fentanyl patches and several other narcotics). There are existing pharmacies, water districts institutions, solid and hazardous waste agencies that sponsor take-back programs. You can get a reimbursement for disposing your un-needed medications at the right place.