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How to Determine if Expired Medication Is Good

By Contributor ; Updated July 27, 2017

How to Determine if Expired Medication Is Good. Medication has an expiration date, and it is important to understand the risks of taking it after it has expired. At the very least, expired medication may not work as well. In some cases, once medication has expired it can become toxic, and taking it can be lethal. In general, it is best to discard all medication once it has expired.

Research the medication that you take so that you are knowledgeable on what happens to it once it reaches the expiration date. Be sure you learn the hazards associated with your medication before you even consider taking it after it has expired. Nitroglycerin tablets and Epinephrine, among others, can lead to death if taken after expired.

Know what your medication looks like. If considering taking expired medication, look at it first to see if there are any changes in the appearance. If the color has faded, or it looks like it has absorbed moisture, do not take it. However, not all medications change in appearance when they have gone bad, so this is not always a reliable assessment.

Use common sense when it comes to expired medication. If your medication is only a couple of days past the expiration date, chances are better that it could still be good. If the medication you are considering taking is months, or years, past expiration, it is not worth the risk of taking it.

Call the pharmacist and tell them the name of the medication and the expiration date printed on the bottle or package. Ask him if it is safe to take the medication.

Talk to your doctor before taking expired medication. She should also be able to tell you the risks associated with your particular medication.


Know your usage of medication and purchase it in smaller quantities so that it does not expire before you have the chance to use it all. It is important to properly dispose of all expired medications. Flushing the medication down the toilet can contaminate the water supply. Call the pharmacist to ask about how to dispose of it. They may have you bring it in to them so they can dispose of it properly. Proper storage is necessary for all medications. If improperly exposed to moisture, heat or light. medications may loose their potency before they reach expiration.

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