What's in your cabinet? Where you store medications is as important as what you store

Jun 14 2011 - 10:21am


Illustration by EMILY MARCUS/Standard-Examiner
Illustration by EMILY MARCUS/Standard-Examiner

Whether you've got a cough or a stomachache, there's always a place in your home you can turn to for help. The medicine cabinet.

But if you haven't peeked inside there for a while, you just might be grabbing something that might not give you the relief you're looking for.

The first and most important thing to consider is the place you have chosen to store your medicine.

"It's important to store your medications following the manufacturers' recommendations," said Jared Beckstrand, a pharmacist at Lakeview Hospital pharmacy. "Most oral medications should just be stored in a secure, dry location where little ones can't get into them."

Some medications do need to be refrigerated, said Beckstrand, so it's important to ask your pharmacist or read the label on the bottle.

David McRory, director of pharmacy for Brigham City Community Hospital, said that, when storing medications, it's also important to choose an area low in humidity and away from direct sunlight.

"The bathroom is probably not the best place to store medicine," he said. "Most people I talk to store their medicines in a high cupboard in the kitchen, which is fine, but if there is any possibility that younger children have access to the cupboard, I would suggest putting a lock on it."

There are also concerns about taking medications out of their original containers to store them.

"I get concerned when I see people combine all of their medications in one large, unmarked container so they're all together," McRory said. "The potential for possible drug errors, like taking the wrong medication at the wrong time, is huge under these circumstances.

"If you are going to take the medications out of the original containers, it is important to make sure they are organized carefully according to the day of week and time of day, so they are taken appropriately, as prescribed."

Once you know how and where to properly store your medications, it's important to look at each type in your medicine cabinet.

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