Your prescription medication is key to your health and effective treatment plan. Proper storage and care for your medication will help keep it at its optimal efficacy. Most of us are familiar with the standard instructions for prescription medication. As we have entered into official summertime and it is more important than ever to make sure that you are storing your medication in a cool and dry place, let’s learn a bit more why this is so important.
Why It Is Important to Store Your Medication as Directed
Your medication works to take care of your body and manage your symptoms and health conditions; in turn, you should take care of your medication and make sure it stays in its best condition. Always follow your doctor’s instructions on how to take and store your medication. Your pharmacist is also a great person who can speak to how to use and store your medication in the best way.
Most medication will state on the bottle or packaging that you should store it in a dry, cool place away from the sun or bright light. This is because many medications are photosensitive (light sensitive) and are easily damaged by heat and moisture. Pills, capsules, and liquid medications are made up of chemicals that are tested at its recommended room temperature. They are designed to be stored and taken in its optimal form for best results.
Some medications require refrigerator storage, in which case you will want to make sure that your refrigerator is set to standard temperature (for example, many refrigerators will state that “5” is an average coolness level).
When medication is stored in less than ideal conditions, they may not treat your symptoms as well, or they may lose potency before the expiration date. Medications that treat serious health conditions can lead to harmful health issues if not stored properly. Specifically, if you are taking a medication like nitroglycerin or another prescription drug for a heart condition, it is of utmost importance to keep an eye on expiration date and follow care instructions.
Medication Storage Do’s and Don’ts
Don’t transfer or mix pills into a different container. Keep medication in original bottles and packaging.
Don’t rely on expiration date alone. If medication shows change in color, smell or texture before the expiration date, get a refill and dispose of them.
Don’t store medication in the bathroom medicine cabinet. The steam and humidity from showers can damage your medication, even if it is in a bottle inside the cabinet.
Don’t store medication in kitchen cabinets over or near the stove, refrigerator, or any hot appliances.
Do keep your medication inside a lower kitchen cabinet away from any appliances or inside a storage box or on or inside your bedroom dresser.
Do see your doctor for a refill if you notice a change in color, taste, smell, or texture of your medication, even if it has not reached the expiration date.
Do remove the cotton ball that comes in medicine bottles because it can draw moisture.
Do bring any unused medication to the pharmacy or look into city programs for medication recycling programs. Don’t flush medication down the toilet; this is harmful for the water supply.
How to Care for Your Medication This Summer
Now that you are more aware of the importance of proper medication storage, let’s talk about how you can have a healthy summer by taking care of the treatment that helps take care of you. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to prepare for summer heat:
How does the temperature in my home change in the summertime? Consider what the temperature and airflow of your home is like in this season. Do you have a localized or general AC system, use fans in certain rooms, or open windows when you are home? Do you have large south-facing windows that let in a lot of sunlight and heat? If you do not have an AC system and the overall temperature and humidity rises in your home, your medication will likely be affected. Make sure the area where your medication is stored is kept at a consistent room temperature.
Will my medication need to travel outside of my home? If you take medication that needs to travel with you throughout the day, you can plan ahead to prepare to maintain the integrity of your medication. For example, you can bring a purse or bag to carry your medication with you instead of leaving it inside your hot car. If you use medication that requires cooler storage inside a refrigerator, you can bring a mini cooler during transportation and look into options for cool storage where you are going.
What are the best ways to travel and vacation with my medication? Summer is peak travel season, and if you have upcoming trips, it would be a great idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss how to care for your health and medication while you are away. Refill any prescriptions so that you have enough medication during and following your trip. Remember it is best to bring medication in its original bottle, and to keep it with you in your carry-on bag.
We hope this has been a helpful reminder to take extra care of your medication this summer, no matter how hot it gets outside!
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