Give Your Medicine Cabinet a Checkup

By Kristi Nelson
|  Friday, May 13, 2011  |  Updated 7:07 PM CDT
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Your medicine cabinet needs a checkup every six months to a year, and doctors say many people hold on to over the counter and prescription drugs for too long.

Kristi Nelson, NBCDFW.com

Your medicine cabinet needs a checkup every six months to a year, and doctors say many people hold on to over the counter and prescription drugs for too long.

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Did you know your medicine cabinet needs a checkup every six months to a year?

A lot of people don't ever think about it, and they hang on to both over-the-counter and prescription drugs for far too long.

Doctors say medicines that are old, expired or meant for conditions you no longer have should be disposed of. That includes antibiotics, said Dr. Shalaun Hawkins of Medical City.

"I would definitely recommend that everyone go through their medication cabinets periodically and go ahead and discard all of those expired medications,” he said.

After the expiration dates, some medications may not work, but others can be harmful.

“I would recommend wrapping them in plastic bags and disposing of them immediately so that small children and other small animals can't accidentally get hold of those," Hawkins said.

Experts say people should not flush medications down the toilet.

Law enforcement agencies also report increases in thefts of prescription drugs by children and family members, so it's best to know what you have on hand.

Hawkins suggests narrowing your home pharmacy down to just a few items, such as ibuprofen for pain and fever and allergy and cough medicines. It also never hurts to have a topical antibiotic or hydrocortisone cream for insect bites and skin irritations.

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