How long are antibiotics good for? We’ve all been there — you finish a course of antibiotics, but have a few extra pills leftover.
You know that doctors generally don’t like patients to take antibiotics unnecessarily, since it can lead to antibiotic resistance, so you may be wondering: how long are antibiotics good for?
Antibiotics are medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria.
While some bacterial infections may clear up without antibiotic treatment, most require the use of prescription medications like penicillin and amoxicillin.
But once prescribed, you want to make sure your antibiotics are effective and not expired before taking them.
Fortunately, learning how long antibiotics stay good is relatively simple.
Generally, if stored correctly and unopened, most types of oral and intravenous (IV) antibiotics will remain potent for two years after their expiration date.
However, several factors including proper storage conditions may affect the shelf life of any medication.
In this article we will discuss different methods to determine the remaining lifespan of medications in both pill and liquid forms.
- Most oral and IV antibiotics, if stored correctly and unopened, will remain potent for up to two years after their expiration date, but some experts suggest discarding unused medications after one year to err on the side of caution.
- Manufacturers may have their own set expiration dates for medicines, so it’s always best to check the labels for specifics about storage and shelf life before making any assumptions about how long antibiotics are good for.
- Improperly stored antibiotics may go bad quicker as most antibiotics are sensitive to heat, light, air, and moisture, so it’s essential to store them according to manufacturer instructions or advised by a pharmacist.
- Prescription medications can also self-life sooner than OTC products, and it’s always best to get advice on how long individual drugs will stay effective as well as advice on proper storage from a doctor’s office or pharmacy.
- Expired antibiotics may not be reliable and could cause harm if taken incorrectly, so it’s essential to dispose of unused and expired medicine responsibly and never take prescription medication meant for someone else.
How Long are Antibiotics Good for?
Antibiotics play an important role in treating a wide range of bacterial infections.
But when it comes to the timeline for how long do antibiotics stay effective, it may vary depending on how they are stored and kept.
Here’s a look at how long antibiotics may be good for and what factors influence their efficacy.
When Stored Properly, Antibiotics Are Generally Good For Up To Two Years
The general rule of thumb is that if your prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) antibiotic is stored properly, it should remain potent for up to two years from the date of purchase.
Some experts suggest discarding unused medications after one year just to err on the side of caution.
Expiration Dates Vary by Manufacturer
Manufacturers may have their own set expiration dates for medicines, so it’s always best to check the labels for specifics about storage and shelf life before making any assumptions about ‘how long are antibiotics good for’.
Most OTC products, like antifungal treatments or amoxicillin capsules, usually carry an expiration date of between one and two years from production.
Improperly Stored Antibiotics May Go Bad Quicker
Keep in mind that most antibiotics are sensitive to heat, light, air and moisture – so if you’re not storing them correctly, their usefulness might decrease faster than the standard two-year timeline.
Store your antibiotics according to manufacturer instructions or advised by your pharmacist; ideally in a cool, dry place below 25 degrees Celsius.
Prescription Medications Can Also Self-Life Sooner Than OTC Products
Your doctor’s office or pharmacy can also provide guidance on how long individual drugs will stay effective as well as advice on proper storage.
That being said, some manufacturers may recommend avoiding storing their medications above room temperature or freezing them without specific instructions on available compromised stability over time due to temperature fluctuations or humidity levels out of ideal conditions than other types of medications such as painkillers or cold remedies.
Dispose Unused & Expired Medicines Responsibly
It’s also important to note that once an antibiotic has expired its potency won’t be reliable and could actually cause harm if taken incorrectly.
This is why you should never save old prescriptions; make sure you dispose unused and expired medicine responsibly according Gena Diesendruck ‘s post in ‘ Med Shadow ‘.
And this is why you never take prescription medication meant for someone else — no matter how much it looks alike; don’t forget: generic versions look different!
It is important to consider the shelf life of any antibiotics you’re taking, especially if they were prescribed for a long-term illness.
Every antibiotic has a different shelf life, so it is best to make sure you check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications.
Furthermore, if your prescription runs out before it should, it is better to make sure and get a refill than to risk taking medicine that is expired and ineffective.
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