My I-Caps expiration date was Novemer 2012 and I didn't realize this and kept taking them? What health problems could this cause me, if any?
More than likely, they wont hurt you, they just probably weren't as potent as unexpired ones would be. Vitamins and minerals lose their potency over time. Always get into a habit of checking for expired drugs. It is good to check through your medicine cabinet monthly, if you can or at the very least, every six months. Throw out anything that is expired or will expire before your next checking time if you do it less than monthly. I tell my patients to pick a day every month to be expiration check day. Mark it on the calendar. Commonly people pick the first of the month, the last of the month or the 15th of the month but any day is fine as long as you are consistent. Think of it as the same as replacing your toothbrush every 3 months or even just like a "cleaning" day. There are some medications, particularly some antibiotics, that can break down and become toxic in time. Aspirin begins to smell like vinegar when it gets old. Expiration dates are important to keep track of. It is really not a bad habit to look at the expiration date before taking anything that is not a regular medication. If you take it "as needed", you should check the expiration date before you use the medication or supplement. It is just the same as you wouldn't want to eat foods when they are spoiled or past their expiration dates, medications are the same way-they dont last forever. If you are unsure, a good rule of thumb is if it is older than a year old, dispose of it. You can bag old drugs up to take to "drug take back days" (several places have DEA sponsored drug take back days where you can drop off old or unwanted drugs and they properly dispose of them) or you can dispose of them yourself. With vitamins, it is not as big a deal, but they could still be harmful for children or pets if they are not disposed of properly then some medications , like controlled substances (old pain pills or anxiety drugs) should be disposed of properly for sure. This is one way that drugs can become available on the "streets"-people find discarded pain pills in trash. You can go on the DEA website and download directions for proper disposal plus they often post national "Take Back Days" and where to take your drugs. For most drugs, you dont want to flush them down the toilet or sink and they can pollute the water supply. Usually the drugs that can be flushed will tell you to do so in the instruction or on the label. Drugs like Fentanyl patches are an example of drugs that it is advised to flush. For most other drugs, take them out of the original container, mix them with an undesirable substance like used coffee grounds, used kitty litter etc, and put the mixture in a zip sealed plastic bag, sealable can or other container to prevent leaks then put into the trash. This makes them less attractive to children and pets and ruins them for people looking in the trash for desirable drugs. If you are throwing out prescription drug bottles, be sure to "de-identify" them by using a marker to mark through your name, the medication name (if you have a desirable drug, you dont want people to know it and open you up to a possible break in to obtain your medications), your address or any other identifying information on the label, or you can peel off the label and shred it up. Another way, if you have a lot of drugs and there is no "take back" program is to buy plaster of paris, mix up a batch according to instructions, mix the unwanted pills into the wet plaster of paris, pour mixture into a container and let it dry then dispose of the dried mix. Ask your pharmacist if he/she is aware of any "take Back" programs in your area because that is truly the best way to get rid of unwanted drugs. There are some places in every state that are permanent take back sites and other places have periodic times they do this. You can also check websites like medicineabuseproject.org for Take Back locations in each state. I know this may be more info than you wanted but I wanted to post for your information plus for other who may read this post to get the information.
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