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What You Need to Know About Safely Managing Your Medicine Cabinet

The number one mistake most people make when it comes to their meds is keeping them long after their expiration date, experts say.

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Photo by: stevepb

Long Island, NY - February 8, 2019 - The average medicine cabinet is often the most disheveled and disorganized part of any person’s home; most people only bother opening it when they need a quick swig of mouthwash or a painkiller, and often the result is a jumbled mess of outdated pill bottles, creams, and gels.
And such chaos in such a relatively small part of your homestead can actually spell trouble for your health and well-being if you’re not careful, according to North Shore Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Group Pharmacist Leonard Langino, who held a lecture at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library recently on the subject.
“Many of us at home have many kinds of medication, and it’s not necessarily stored in the best possible place,” he said. “We’re doing a regular series of lectures called ‘What’s in your Medicine Cabinet?’ where we talk about types of medication – both prescription and over the counter – that we feel that patients should have in the home, how to safely manage them, and how to properly dispose of expired medication, among other issues.”
The number one mistake most people make when it comes to their meds is keeping them long after their expiration date, a period during which their effectiveness quickly begins to diminish and – in some instances – can actually pose an actual hazard to you should you ingest them, Langino said.
“It’s not uncommon for patients to have expired medication in their home, and we’re trying to get people to be more diligent about removing them from the home and have them disposed of properly,” he said. “Having expired medication in the home is not safe if you have children, especially if it’s not stored in a place where they can’t get to it. Also, occasionally people might offer old medication they have to someone, such as antibiotics or painkillers…that’s not a great idea.”
However, having a well-organized and useful medicine cabinet isn’t just about the things you shouldn’t have in it, but also the things you should; Langino gave a run-down on the essentials that any person concerned with their health must have on-hand and easily accessible at all times.
“We will often self-medicate, which is perfectly fine, and there are some medications that are beneficial to have in the household in case they’re needed,” he said. “We’re at the tail-end of allergy season, so it’s always good to have allergy meds in the house, in addition to meds for pain relief, cold relief, and topical ointments to treat cuts and abrasions.”
Director of Community Outreach for Ambulatory Services with North Shore LIJ, Annette Roth, was also on-hand for the lecture, and noted that he organization does a great deal of work with the public to keep them informed of a wide number of health-related topics throughout the year.
“We do this to give back to the communities that we serve…it’s for good will,” she said. “We could hold as many as five lectures in a given week – it varies week by week – and we speak at libraries, businesses, assisted living homes, Chamber of Commerce venues, and we speak on various topics regarding the health of local residents.”
While visiting your doctor on a regular basis and getting regular check-ups is a vital part of maintaining a high quality of life, being proactive on your own when it comes to your health is equally important, Langino said; part of doing so is making sure that the things you’re keeping in your medicine cabinet – and occasionally taking out and putting onto or into your body – are safe and effective, both for your sake and the sake of your family.
“There are countless types of medication – prescription, over the counter, vitamins – but always remember, regardless of the type or what they do, they’re ALL classified as medication,” he said. “We have to be aware of any interactions among them, and bringing attention to that is one of the things we try and do at our lectures.”