What Happens When You Take Expired Pills?

Updated at: Aug 19, 2020
What Happens When You Take Expired Pills?

Expired medicines are not safe to consume instead of relieving the existing condition they may cause severe health consequences.

Gandharv Gulati
Mind BodyWritten by: Gandharv GulatiPublished at: Aug 19, 2020

We are warned to not take expired medicines as they are dangerous but have you ever wondered what would happen if you take an expired pill? Allopathic medicines whether pills or tonics, come with an expiry date and we are told to not consume them if they have expired. We all abide by it but do you know why it is asked to avoid expired medicines? Let us find out. Many people take expired medications either due to negligence(not checking the expiry date) or because they are not aware of this expiration fact. In either case, their health is at risk.

Why is there an expiry date on every medicine?


  • Before telling you the unanticipated consequences of taking expired pills, let us tell you why medicines come with an expiry date. Just like how food products have a ‘Best Before’ date, medicines both prescription and non-prescription come with an expiration date after which they are labeled unsafe for consumption.
  • Every medicine has its unique formulation depending upon the ingredients present in it. These ingredients have a shelf-life post which, they aren’t beneficial anymore. Even if the pill looks the same, the ingredients inside it have deteriorated. The safety and effectiveness of medicine depend upon the shelf life and therefore, consuming it within the given time period is suggested. You might not get the benefits that the medicine was supposed to provide.

Problems associated with taking expired drugs

Here are some complications of taking drugs after their expiry date

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Health problems

Consuming expired drugs can land you in big trouble. While some may not cause problems as such, some expired drugs may cause serious problems including nausea, vomiting, restlessness, breathlessness, fluctuations in blood pressure, acute headache, etc. These are general problems that may aggravate and cause serious issues. Thus, it is always safer to avoid expired pills.

Change in the formula

One of the main reasons for labelling expiry date on each and every medicine is to retain the efficacy of the drug. A chemical reacts to a certain amount of time only which is its efficacy. After that, not only it loses its efficacy but also becomes unsafe due to the chemical changes. Sometimes, discoloured medicine or foul smell coming from the medicine is proof that the formula has expired. It is better to avoid the consumption for health and safety concerns.

Drug Abuse


A lot of people become drug abusers as they keep expired drugs and consume them. They become addicted to these over time which poses serious health risks including brain damage, heart attack and untimely death. Not just that, if these drugs are kept at home, your pet or children may consume them accidentally which can be detrimental for their wellness. Thus, it is always better to discard expired drugs.

Conclusion: Hence, keep checking your medical box for expired medicines and dispose of them from time to time before you or anyone from the family consume it. You can throw them in the trash but it is better to flush them.

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