Storing your meds
Find a cool, dry location in your home to store your medications and vitamins. Keep them away from bright windows and storage rooms that might be affected by outdoor weather. This means also keeping them away from a cabinet that's near a sink or stove. It's actually recommended that they be stored in a clothes closet, says West Conner, PharmD, a pharmacist and author of How to Save Money on Your Prescription Drugs.
"When exposed to moisture and high heat, drugs decompose, and possible disintegrate. These factors can greatly alter how these drugs will work in the body and definitely shorten their shelf life," says CVS/Pharmacy Manager Henry Cohen, PharmD.
Pharmacist Lisa Meny, PharmD, who works as a director of a program that attempts to improve patient health through medication therapy management in Lansing, Michigan, says many people find a kitchen cabinet a good location for medication. "It is easily accessed for convenience, while high enough to be out of reach of children," she adds. If you have a locked cabinet, even better.
Don't store medications in the refrigerator unless required to do so. If a medication must be stored in the refrigerator, keep it high and toward the back, away from a child's reach.
Always keep medications and vitamins in their original containers. This way you are always aware of what the medication or vitamin is as well as when it expires.
But if you have trouble keeping them organized, Meny says creating a pill box system may also be a great tool to help you remember what to take and when to take it. " By utilizing a pill box you can be sure that you take the right medications every day. Talk to your pharmacist about the best solution."
Pill boxes are typically not recommended for households with children and if you have visitors who are children, this is something to consider not using when they are in the house.
Keep all medications and vitamins out of the reach of children. Store them on a high shelf and don't forget to ensure their lids are child-proof. "If someone is taking medication for pain, sleep, anxiety or other prescription that has the potential for addiction, these should be hidden from view," suggests Conner. Meny says to keep a close eye on medications that have the potential for abuse.
"Do not let others in your household know where you keep your controlled substance medications, and make sure to monitor the amount you have left so you will be alerted if anyone else is taking them," Meny says.
Provide separate, color-coded bins for each person's medications. This way you don't get your medications confused with someone else's. Meny says color coding with markers works as well.
Disposing of medications
Dispose of expired medications. When disposing of unused, unneeded or expired medication, CVS/pharmacy recommends the following:
- Take the drugs out of their original containers.
- Mix the drugs with coffee grounds or kitty litter or some other undesirable substance, then put them in an empty can or sealed bag before throwing them out.
- Make sure to not flush drugs down the toilet unless the instructions specifically tell you to do so.
**Please ensure to check with your healthcare providor before taking any medications or supplements or making changes to your diet. This article is for informational purposes only and should in no way replace advice from your healthcare provider.