What’s in your medicine cabinet?

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We are all familiar with spring cleaning, but how often do we think about cleaning out our medicine cabinets?  With fall upon us, it’s a good time to look at this often-neglected area.

Your medicine cabinet contents really depend on a number of factors like your health conditions, your lifestyle, age, and the composition of your family.

To begin, medicine cabinets should be kept in non-humid places. Many of us keep our meds in the washroom, which can compromise the efficacy of your medications. Move them to a closet or bookshelf, and don’t forget – if you have little ones coming around, make sure medications are out of reach or locked with a childproof latch.

Next, check for medications past their prime. More than half (53 per cent) of Canadian families rarely check expiry dates on products and 20 per cent found expired products in their homes when asked to look. Expiry dates are normally valid until end of the month, unless specifically stated. Also, make sure when you switch to a new dose (i.e. blood pressure, cholesterol etc.) that you dispose of the old dose so that you don’t mix them up.

Expired medication and any medications you are no longer using should be disposed of safely. Take them to your local Shoppers Drug Mart, where the prescription disposal program ensures medications are properly disposed of, and won’t enter the waste stream.

FACT: Did you know that band-aids can expire? Some contain an antibiotic, be sure to check the expiry date.

If you take three or more medications, talk to your Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist about their medication organizer program. You can get your daily meds in a 7-day blister pack, with separate slots for breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime doses.  This helps ensure you take the correct medications at the right times and that you never miss a dose.

Additionally, you should consult your pharmacist when taking prescription meds and supplements together to avoid contraindications and to ensure you are taking them properly.

Now that you’ve done the clean out, organization is key to keeping the cabinet in order. Reserve a shelf in the cabinet for each member of the family. That way, if multiple people are taking the same medication but have different doses, there’s no confusion.

Finally, there are a few essential items you should always have on hand like Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, a thermometer, antacids, band-aids and antiseptic/wound wash.

Happy cleaning!