Many over-the-counter, everyday medications we have in our homes come with an expiration date. For those that have an FSA or Flexible Savings Account for their healthcare should keep this in mind when they are faced with their FSA dollars expiring December 31.
Once we buy an over the counter (OTC) medication or ointment it’s often easy to forget that they don’t last forever. Whether it’s cold medicine or calamine lotion or even a cream or salve for itchy skin or a rash, they do have an expiration date. Expiration dates are scientifically based upon when the manufacturer can fully guarantee the full effectiveness, purity, and safety of an over-the-counter medication in a closed container. Some tips for storing your OTC medication include:
With all FSA plans, you lose your pretax dollars at the end of the year if they are not used. This is a great time to check the first-aid kit/medicine cabinet to see what FSA eligible medicines you need to replace. Check the expiration date on these and use your FSA dollars to replace these OTC medications. Some eligible FSA medications can include:
1. Medline Acetaminophen Extended-Release Caplets: Used to treat minor aches and pains and reduce fever. Other uses can include reducing aches and pains associated with headaches, menstrual cramps, toothaches, muscle aches, and arthritis.
2. McKesson Sunmark Cold and Cough Relief Strength Syrup: Formulated to loosen phlegm and thin bronchial secretions, this cold/cough syrup provides relief from severe cold symptoms. It can help drain bronchial tubes and provide temporary relief from your cough due to minor throat/bronchial irritation. The alcohol-free formula is safe for both adults and children.
3. Cardinal Health Bacitracin Topical Ointment: A staple of the medicine chest or first aid kit is bacitracin to help prevent infection from minor cuts, scrapes, or burns. By inhibiting bacterial growth this ointment can help prevent a little injury from becoming a major issue down the road.
4. Zyrtec Allergy Liquid Gels: This allergy relief medication effectively provides 24 hours relief from indoor/outdoor and respiratory allergies such as runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes as well as treating allergies associated with dust, mold, and pet dander.
5. Bayer Alka-Seltzer Original Analgesic Drug Tablet: Formulated to provide fast relief from heartburn, headaches, and acid indigestion these tablets can give relief from body aches/pains and discomfort from overindulgence from food/drink.
6. Vicks VapoRub Chest Rub: A topical cough medicine with medicated vapors that can be applied on the chest and throat to give cough relief (especially for children aged 2 and older). It’s especially good for nasal congestion common cold.
7. Dynerex Hydrocortisone Cream 1%: This cream gives temporary relief from minor skin irritations associated with insect bites, poison ivy, oak, and sumac. It can also help with rashes and issues with eczema or allergies to soaps/detergents.
It is important that any expired medication gets disposed of properly and not just willy-nilly where small children or pets could accidentally ingest it. The FDA offers guidelines for properly disposing of unused medication that is expired. Visit the FDA website.
Often, we take the over-the-counter medicines that we keep in our medicine cabinets or first-aid kits for granted. We just assume that they are good and effective when we need them and that time doesn’t have any negative effect on them. Over time they lose their efficacy and do not provide the proper relief we need from simple, everyday ailments. Be sure to check your medicine cabinet annually and if anything needs replacing visit www.healthproductsforyou.com and use your FSA dollars wisely to replenish your stock pile before forfeiting any annual FSA contributions.
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Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.
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