Health Crush Contributor
Whether you’re excited or dreading the impending tradition of spring cleaning this year, don’t make the mistake of overlooking your medicine cabinet. A neglected medication cabinet isn’t just clutter, it can be a serious health hazard. Follow our tips and have a clean and safe medicine cabinet in no time.
Use a Pill Identifier
As you’re sifting through half-used toothpaste tubes, broken combs and Q-tips, you may come across some forgotten or unmarked medications. Before you can make the decision on if and how to dispose of them, you need to identify what type of medication they are. In this case, you can use LowestMed’s pill identifier for help (https://www.lowestmed.com/pill-identifier). Simply enter the medication’s characteristics (size, shape, symbols, color, etc.) or the name (if you’re looking for a specific pill) and the tool will generate images of medications.
Organize Your Medicine Cabinet
When we talk organization, we are talking about going a step further than color coordinating your medications. Here are three key tips for medication organization.
- Properly dispose of any unused or expired medications
- If someone else is sharing your medicine cabinet, separate your medications from each other
- If you take certain medications regularly, invest in a monthly or weekly pill organizer
Store your Medications Safely
How you store your medication can affect how well it works, while also keeping it out of the hands of children. Here is what you should remember when storing your medication.
- Store your medications in a cool, dry place
- Heat and moisture from your shower or bath can damage your medicine, making them less potent or causing them to go bad before the expiration date
- Don’t store medication by the stove or any type of hot appliance
- Always keep medicine in its original container
- Take the cotton ball out of the medicine bottle – it pulls moisture into the bottle
- Ask your pharmacists if your medication has specific storage instructions
- Store medication out of reach and sight of children and with a child latch or lock
Check for Expired or Damaged Medication
This one is straightforward – if your medication is expired, it is not safe to take and should be thrown out. Damaged medication is also not safe to take. Throw out your medication if you notice the following.
- Medicine has changed color, texture or smell
- Medicine is sticking together
- Medicine is harder or softer than usual
- Medicine is cracked or chipped
Properly Dispose of Medications
By now, we understand the importance of disposing any damaged, unwanted or expired medication – but the question is how? There are specific guidelines to properly and safely dispose of medications. The first three things to consider are:
- Are there any specific disposal instructions? For example, not all medicine should be flushed down the sink and toilet
- Take advantage of programs that allow you to take unused drugs to a central location for proper pickup. Such programs can be found by contacting local law enforcement agencies or your city’s household trash and recycling service
- Transfer unused medicines to collectors registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Authorized sites may be retail, hospital or clinical pharmacies and law enforcement agencies. Visit the DEA’s website or call 1-800-882-9539 for more information and to find an authorized collector in near you
What if there aren’t any medication disposal sites nearby?
If there aren’t any medication disposal sites nearby and the medication doesn’t have any specific throw away instructions, the FDA recommends the following steps.
- Remove the medication from its original container and mix them with undesirable substances, such as dirt, coffee grounds or rotten food. This will make them less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through trash seeking drugs
- Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can or any container that will prevent the drug from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag
- Finally, scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and privacy of your personal health information