We look at it every day, whenever we stare into the mirror flossing our teeth, putting on our make-up or brushing our hair.

It’s the medicine cabinet and for many it’s a mini-pharmacy filled with pill bottles, topical ointments, antiseptic sprays and all other means of health care products.

In part 1 of our Medication Management feature, we delved into a system we offer at Medicine Shoppe called the Medication Review or MR.

The purpose of the MR is to review your various medications and prescriptions with you to ensure you’re taking them correctly and that there aren’t any potentially hazardous conflicts between any of the medications you take.

And while a Medication Review is a great, comprehensive way to conduct a complete analysis of your medication regimen, a simple, often forgotten exercise is the simple cleaning and checking of that cluttered medicine cabinet.

So here are some quick and easy steps to take to make sure what’s in your medicine cabinet is up-to-date and still effective! This is something you should diarize to do every year.

First off, let’s talk about expiry dates.

Most medications have expiration dates printed on them, but those expiration dates are often determined based on ‘unopened’ medications.

Once opened, rubbing your fingertip against the tip of an ointment tube, touching an eye drop container to your eyelashes or even fishing a tablet or pill out of a bottle with your finger, adds germs to products that can vastly speed up their deterioration.

The best rule of thumb is that once opened, most products are good for one year. Beyond that time, there’s no guarantee the medications will still be effective, or even safe to use.

So that anti-itch cream you opened three years ago? Trash it! In fact, you should trash any medications you’re in doubt about.

But before you go loading up that garbage bag and running it down to the trash can, or worse, flushing those old pills down the drain, remember many of these medications contain ingredients that can become dangerous if they make it to the landfill or our water reservoirs.

The best thing to do is bring those outdated medications into us and we’ll dispose of them safely for you, at no charge!

Now what about those medical devices like thermometers, blood pressure monitors, etc.?

It’s likely these won’t expire, but with technology changing all the time, new, upgraded versions of a lot of these devices are always coming out!

Make a list of what you have and come visit us at Medicine Shoppe. We can show you the latest and greatest version of those devices!

Once you’ve cleaned out the cabinet, the next step is to restock it!

First off, make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked with the five essentials:

  • Acetaminophen (for headaches, fevers, aches & pains)
  • Something for motion sickness
  • Something to control diarrhea (diarrhea can quickly cause dehydration, so its always good to have an anti-diarrhea remedy close by!)
  • An allergy medication (like diphenhydramine)
  • Bandages to cover any cuts or scrapes!
  • BONUS ITEM: Having a tensor bandage around for strains and sprains isn’t a bad idea too!

But also keep in mind how you store all these items!

Not every medication is right for the medicine cabinet. After all, your medicine cabinet resides in one of the most humid rooms in the house – your bathroom, which can become a sauna during those long shower sessions!

Keep in mind moisture and humidity can dramatically reduce the shelf life of many medications.

The best thing to do is to come and speak to a professional here at Medicine Shoppe. Tell us what medications you have and we’ll help you sort out how and where to store them.

Next time, in our third and final Medication Management installment, we’ll talk about Accu-Pak, an amazing and super simple drug management system that will make keeping track of your regular medications a breeze!