The One Way You're Making Your Medicine Less Effective

Experts say doing this with your medicine can actually speed up its expiration date.

You may think you know how to store medications, especially if you're one of the nearly 70 percent of Americans the Mayo Clinic reports take at least one prescription drug. But if you're keeping your meds in the bathroom, you're actually in the wrong. According to experts, storing your pills in a bathroom medicine cabinet is making them less effective. Read on to find out why you need to be moving your meds, and for more words of warning, If You're Using This OTC Medication Daily, See a Doctor.

When storing medication, many people opt to use the aptly named medicine cabinet in their bathroom—surely it's called that for a reason. However, the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) actually warns people against this storage method, as it can make your medicines "less potent" because they should be stored in a cool, dry place instead.

"The bathroom is not a good place to store medications because of the heat and moisture," explains pharmacist Aaron Emmel, PharmD, founder of Pharmacy Tech Scholar. "Warm and humid environments can speed up the breakdown process of medications, making them less potent."

Storing your meds in an area where temperatures can rise may also affect their expiration dates. A pivotal 2004 study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine found that every time the temperature rises by about 18 degrees Fahrenheit, it increases the rate in which a medicine breaks down.

According to Rashmi Byakodi, BDS, a health and wellness expert for Best Nutrition, "even if the immediate stability of stored medicines is not seriously affected, there may well be an effect on the shelf life or expiry date of the drug."

If you're going to store your medications in the bathroom no matter what, Emmel says you should make sure your bottles are tightly closed to prevent as much moisture as possible from entering. He also advises you remove any cotton balls inside medication bottles, as they tend to draw moisture into the bottle.

"No matter what, always inspect your medication before you take it," Emmel says. "Make sure the expiration date hasn't passed, and discard the medication if there are any noticeable changes in appearance, smell, or texture, or if tablets or capsules are sticking together or cracked."

Your bathroom cabinet isn't the only place you should avoid putting your medication, however. Keep reading for more places you should stop storing meds, and for more advice on getting the most from your prescriptions, The More You Use This Common Medication, the Less it Works.

1
Above your kitchen sink

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You can store your medicine in the kitchen, but you should avoid doing so right above the sink. Just like the bathroom, moisture and heat from this sink can also shorten the shelf life of your medications and make them less effective, says pharmacist Jessica Nouhavandi, PharmD, co-founder of Honeybee Health. And for surprising salves in your kitchen, This Kitchen Staple May Cure Your Cold Better Than Medicine, Study Finds.

2
Near the stove

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If you are going to store your medicine in the kitchen, avoid hot appliances as well. Emmel says that placing your medicines in a cabinet near or above the stove is not advised because this also generates excess heat—which could break down your medications faster. And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

3
In the trunk of your car

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According to Byakodi, your medicine should never be stored anywhere that reaches a temperature above 77 degrees Fahrenheit. She says your car trunk is one place that commonly pushes past that point. And for more guidance on the meds you might be taking, If You Use This Medication, You Need to Talk to Your Doctor Now.

4
By a window

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Your windowsill may act as a makeshift storage spot for many of your household items, but don't keep your medicine here. Not only can the heat from the sun cause an issue, the NLM notes that light may also damage your medication. And for more home safety issues to keep an eye out for, If You Have This Candle at Home, Get Rid of It Immediately.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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