Expired Antibiotics

Understanding Potential Risks of Expired Antibiotics

Most people have no clue that expired antibiotics pose potential risk.  In fact, it is common to open a person’s medicine cabinet and find antibiotics, as well as other medication from one year ago or longer.  While this might not seem like a big deal, unfortunately, these people are putting themselves in a very bad position, one that could have very serious health consequences.



Although taking expired medication of any type is dangerous, expired antibiotics are especially a huge risk.  Keep in mind that antibiotics are prescribed specifically to help the body fight off infection.  In some cases, the infection is so stubborn that it takes more than one prescription to get it under control.  Every doctor will tell the patient to take all the medication, which is the only effective way to battle the infection.  However, medication loses its chemical potency over time, which means while it was effective when first prescribed, six months later it would not have the same fighting power.

With expired antibiotics, the person is now at risk from two angles.  First, he or she did not take the full prescription as ordered by the medical doctor.  Therefore, while this person may feel better, there is a good chance the infection is not fully contained.  As this person begins to feel bad again and then starts taking the medication that had not been completed, the strength of the chemicals has been altered, which means the drugs are simply not strong enough to fight the infection as they were initially.

This means the infection was never controlled because this person did not follow the doctor’s orders and take the antibiotics on schedule and until gone.  Depending on the type and severity of the infection, this person could be in serious trouble.  After all, while not taking the initial dose, the infection has continued to rage within the body doing who knows what damage.  However, when you add in the fact that expired antibiotics are now being taken, which have lost potency, the infection is still not going to be controlled.

Again, this person may feel better after taking the expired antibiotics for a few days but within a short amount of time, all the symptoms of the infection would return but worse.  If the infection were one hard to fight, the individual could easily end up in the hospital in a life and death situation.  For instance, if someone had pneumonia in one lung, the doctor would prescribe the right type, strength, and duration of antibiotics to get this under control.  Feeling better, the person decides to stop taking the medication only to start feeling horrible again shortly after.

At that point, this person remembers that expired antibiotics are still in the cabinet and begins taking them again to get the pneumonia under control.  The problem is that the medicine is no longer strong enough.  This time, the individual finishes off the prescription thinking the drugs are working and sure enough, he or she feels better.  However, what this person does not realize is that the expired antibiotics are working only as a Band-Aid that once it falls off, the pneumonia would have likely spread to both lungs, meaning this person is now seriously ill.

This type of scenario is all too common, which is why it is imperative that people understand the risks of taking expired antibiotics.  While medication in pill form loses its potency, liquid medication poses yet another problem.  In this case, liquid medication is blended with preservatives so as time passes, the preservatives stop working effectively but even worse, the chemical composition of the drug breaks down, which produces an extremely dangerous byproduct.  Although avoiding expired medication of any type is imperative, keep in mind that antibiotics lose effectiveness much quicker than other forms of legal drugs.