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Past its prime, medication expiry dates, inhaler inventory and housekeeping.

Past Its Prime, Medication Expiry Dates, Inhaler Inventory and Housekeeping

Like most patients, there are a few items in my medicine cabinet that I have been saving for a zombie apocalypse or that failed but that I just don’t seem to have gotten rid of. There is even that special inhaler that you no longer take because your asthma is improved but you hold on to it, just in case you have a flash back of those symptoms that sent you to the ER or that made you curl up in a ball at Christmas Party. (more on that story another day).

What are your solutions for tracking expiry dates and usefulness of inhalers?

I like to keep track of doses as best as I can, but it is not a full proof system. Especially with rescue inhalers. They seem to be everywhere and for good reason, one in the car, gym bag, desk drawer etc. I have wondered about what the best tracking system, would be. If you have any ideas, please send them to me.

Mission: Clean out my medicine cabinet!

I set out on a mission to at least start an inventory… oh gosh, did I find things from the dark ages? An empty inhaler is not going to help anyone, so they were the first ones to go. I had a bin full of things that I believe I just needed to remove my name from so they could be properly disposed of. It was also time to tackle that task. Out came my black marker and to task I went. It was actually a really interesting experiment, in front of me sat a bit of a chronicle of my inhaler journey. The combination inhaler that had failed for me (many people found that it worked awesome for them for me, but it was a bit of fail). Why was I holding on to this? Oh right, zombie apocalypse!

Then I cam across some of my favorites, I really enjoyed a ICS (Inhaled Corticosteroid) and separate LABA (Long Acting Beta Agonist) that I was on, it was like magic, even if the results were not particularly long term and there may have been some concern about long term cardiac issues. While, we are on the topic of LABA’s, does anyone else always think of Llamas when they hear this term? More discoveries were made, nebulizer respells. Those I have to put a piece of tape on with a large print expiry date clearly indicated. I only use my nebulizer in very specific situations and mostly for using with hypertonic saline for bronchorhhea. I seldom use rescue nebules. I try to only get the minimum amount of them when I fill a prescription since these tend to have the longest shelf life in my experience. Once I did a bit of a clean up, I used an old fashion spreadsheet to track the medication, how much I had and when they expired. I need to get better at keeping this list updated but at least this is a start.

I would love to hear your ideas for keeping track of this data.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • BreathlessInPittman
    2 years ago

    I usually have several rescue inhalers on hand because my husband and I both get them. To keep on top of using the oldest ones first, I use a sharpie and number them. I have managed to train my husband to always use the lowest number he can find. We have a small stockpile but the inventory turns over better than the dog.
    As far as keeping up with how many hits we have used out of each inhaler, more power to you if you can partially keep a log of doses used because I’m not even going to try. Luckily most of ours have counters. I insisted to my doctor that I had to have inhalers with counters because I had found myself out with empty an inhaler, thinking I had plenty until I needed desperately to use one. Since then I always get the ones with counters. I used to carry them in a purse until I tried to use one that had a small piece of a plastic Walmart bag in between the canister and the outside of the inhaler. When it almost went down my throat, it broke me of carrying them in a purse where it might happen again. Now I always carry them in my jeans or my bra. Do you find that Albuterol nebulizer solution loses it’s potency very quickly after the exp. date? That’s been my experience. I also discovered the solution is very sensitive to light. I also discovered that reading the labels and packing info can be very informative because it tells you info that can be very helpful.

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    I have never been good at keeping records of what I have. Interestingly, I have never thrown an inhaler out. It’s very rare that I have an inhaler long enough for it to expire. I might go months without using a rescue inhaler. But, eventually, they will be used. Even the ones that get lost on the couch. Great article! Great article as usual. Always get me thinking about my own asthma.

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