When patients take medicine, they expect it to work. But experts warn if medications aren't stored properly, not only will they stop working - they could become dangerous.
Stephen Wilson recently discovered that fact while vacationing with his family in New Hampshire.
Suffering from an allergy attack, Wilson quickly swallowed the medication he'd brought with him only to find it to be ineffective.
Wilson's allergy medicine had been stored in the hot trunk of the family car during a six-hour trip to New Hampshire.
"Well we didn't know at the time, but I guess now we know that they stopped working because it was really hot," Wilson said
"Anything that is a life-saving or life-preserving medication -- probably need to be very, very careful with that," Dr. Grant Fowler of UTHealth Medical School cautioned.
"Most medicines are designed to be most useful and helpful around room temperature," he said.
Such warnings are clearly printed on the packaging of all medications -- and pharmacists say they need to be taken seriously.
Health experts say medicine should be kept between 68 and 77 degrees. Exposing them to temperatures over 86 degrees can actually cause them to break down, making them ineffective.
To preserve medication, pharmacists suggest taking a few precautions:
- When flying keep medications in your carry-on luggage since the tarmac causes cargo holds on planes to get too hot.
- When driving keep medicine in the car and not in trunk.
- If you are having medication mailed to you, choose the overnight shipping option as mailboxes can reach more than 130 degrees during the day.
The best place to store medicine in your home would be a temperature-controlled area like a linen closet. Avoid bathroom medicine cabinets because bathrooms get both warm and humid.