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This is the right way to store your medicine

Your medicine cabinet is NOT the best place for it.

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While it might seem convenient to leave the medications that you take on a regular basis in different spots around your house (i.e., the pill you take with breakfast on the kitchen counter), it’s unwise to do so. There are many reasons why medicines need to be stored properly. Here are a few rules to follow to keep your meds in tiptop shape, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

1. Take them out of the bathroom cabinet. Just because they’re in a bottle doesn’t mean your meds are safe and out of harm’s way. Outside environmental factors like heat, light, and moisture can still damage them. This actually means that most medicines should not be kept in bathroom cabinets, since hot baths, showers, and sinks keep bathrooms humid. Instead, find a cool, dry place to keep them, like in a storage box in a dresser drawer or at the top of your closet, out of the sight and reach of children. Additionally, that little cotton ball that comes at the top of some OTC medicines should be removed, since it draws additional moisture into the bottles.

2. Avoid incorrect labeling. Using old medicine bottles to store different types of medicines is never a good idea, no matter how convenient condensing things may seem. It’s easy to forget which medicines are in which containers when you start switching bottles around, and that can lead to taking the wrong pills for the wrong symptoms. The best thing to do is to keep your medicines in their original containers.

3. Stay on top of expiration dates. Consider making it a monthly habit to go through your current medicine stash and throw away anything that has expired. Your OTC remedies should all have a date printed on them, and if a prescription medication doesn’t have a date, ask your pharmacist.

4. Really, ask if you have any questions at all. If your pills have changed in texture, shape, taste, or smell, or if they’re harder or softer than normal, or cracked or chipped, it’s likely you shouldn’t take them. Ask your pharmacist if you’re not sure it’s safe to take a medicine, even if the expiration date hasn’t passed. Your pharmacist will also be a great source for explaining how to properly store any specific type of medicine you might have a question about. (For example, some medicines might require refrigeration. Check with your pharmacist to be sure.)

5. Use the proper disposal methods. The proper handling and storage of your medicines also includes proper disposal techniques. You can check if your pharmacy is registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to collect prescription medications or ask if they participate in a drug collection program, like the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Never flush medicine down the toilet unless the prescription’s disposal instructions specifically say to do so. If there are no disposal instructions on the drug labeling or take-back programs in your area, and you’ll just be throwing expired products in the trash, mix them first with a substance that ruins the product, like cat litter, and put the mixture in a sealed plastic bag before placing it in the trash.