Is it okay to use expired medicine?

Is it okay to use expired medicine?
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Using an expired drug is probably okay if you have a minor health issue like a headache or sinus trouble, according to some doctors. If your condition is serious, though - don't chance it.

Many medicines, especially tablets and capsules, have a shelf life well beyond the date on the bottle, experts say.

According to Dr. Sharon Bergquist with the Emory School of Medicine, "The reality is that because these expiration dates are so conservative, probably even 5-10 years from the time of the expiration date, a person can try still using their product."

Manufacturers guarantee their drugs will be safe and fully effective up until the expiration date, which is usually one to five years after it's produced. Medications that are long expired often are still 90 percent effective, according to Dr. Bergquist.

It should be noted that there are certain medicines which should not be used beyond the expiration date, often because they treat chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes where 100 percent potency is crucial.

"Nitroglicerin - which quickly loses its effectiveness after you open the bottle - insulin, vaccines, suspension type antibiotics that you have to refrigerate, eyedrops that are kept in a preservative bottle," Dr. Bergquist said are all examples when you should not fudge the expiration.

To help your meds stand the test of time, store them in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and in their original containers.