Can You Take Expired Benadryl?: Safety And Effects

Can You Take Expired Benadryl?
11 min reading time

As one of the most well-known antihistamine medicines on the market, Benadryl has been creating much buzz. But can you take expired Benadryl, or are there side effects that are too dangerous to chance?

First, let us ask the obvious question of whether or not expired products are considered dangerous?

Does it have an expiration date just to scare people into thinking that using the drug past the time labeled as “safe” is potentially harmful?

Are there potential side effects? Do they seriously expire after only a couple of years?

These are the questions to be answered in this article.

What Is Benadryl?

Benadryl is a brand name for the over-the-counter medication diphenhydramine HCI. Diphenhydramine is used to treat sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, hives, skin rash, itching, and other symptoms of allergies and the common cold. 

It works by blocking a certain natural substance (histamine) that causes allergy symptoms. Histamine causes a variety of symptoms, including rashes, itching, hives, and headaches. It also triggers allergy reactions to pollen, mold, dust, and other common allergens. There are many types of Benadryl, including non-drowsy Benadryl

Benadryl causes sedation by blocking histamine receptors in the brain and nervous system. This reduces anxiety and eases allergy symptoms. Care should be taken to avoid mixing Benadryl with alcohol as it has many dangers.

What Is An Expiry Date?

An expiry date also called a “use-by date,” is a safety date on packaged foods and drugs. Expiry dates are labels that inform you about the end date of a product. Usually, these labels appear on food products that have a limited life after production. Such as milk, bread, and cheese, among others.

You can find it on packaged meals and drugs to tell you when the product will expire and is no longer safe to consume. The expiry date tells you how long you can keep it at home.

Put simply, the expiry date or shelf life tells you when a product has to be consumed while it’s still at its best. It’s a useful indication of freshness and quality. This prevents you from paying for stale products that will no longer satisfy you.

An expiration date is different from a warranty expiration date. This is because the warranty expiration does not necessarily imply the product will become unusable after that date.

How Long Can You Take Medicine After the Expiration Date?

According to a study conducted by Havard University, both prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date. This means you can take most drugs even after their expiry dates have elapsed, as this doesn’t necessarily mean that the drug has lost its effectiveness.

However, make sure you consult your physician before you take any expired medicine, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

How Long Does Benadryl Stay Good For?

There’s no scientific way of ascertaining the exact date when the active ingredients in over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines expire. The shelf life for diphenhydramine is 2 to 5 years if the medication is kept in its original container at room temperature.

Nevertheless, several factors can affect how long a drug stays good. This includes humidity, the presence of light and the drug’s potency.

This depends on the type of Benadryl you have. The generic has a shelf life of five years, while the prescription lasts up to one year. This means that generic and manufacturer-made products last for different amounts of time.

Chewable and children’s Benadryl products should generally be used within a few months of opening. Once the package has been opened, it should be used within 90 days. 

There is a reason why there is a shorter shelf life for this type of Benadryl. This is because the build-up of moisture could compromise the integrity of the products. All Benadryl products should be stored at room temperature.

Does Expired Benadryl Work?

An expired Benadryl (diphenhydramine) that has been stored under correct conditions should work fine. Under normal conditions, Benadryl will last a long time. In fact, most benadryl have expiration dates that are longer than the shelf life. The key word here is under normal conditions.

The rule of thumb is to check the use by or expiration date on the package. If it’s expired, you can still use it as long as it has been stored in an airtight container. For example, a sealed bottle or tin and kept away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight.

Nevertheless, if you’re concerned about whether or not an antihistamine is still effective after it’s expired, consult with a physician before taking it. This should be done so you don’t accidentally ingest something that could make you sick.

What Happens When You Take Expired Benadryl?

What Happens When You Take Expired Benadryl? Well, first, you need to understand that Benadryl will not last forever. It will only last as long as the ingredient Diphenhydramine lasts. 

Research shows that expired medications do not necessarily mean the drug won’t work. It is only the manufacturer’s guarantee about the potency of the drug. 

If taken shortly past its expiration date, the medicine should still be safe to use. But it might not work as effectively.

Ultimately, it’s essential to know what happens when you take expired Benadryl.

  • You May Not Get as Much Relief

The active medication in some OTC allergy medicines begins to “break down” after the expiration date. If you take medicine that’s past its expiration date, you may not get the same relief.

  • You May Get No Relief

Taking medications to relieve allergies are something that most people use to ensure they are not affected by the environment around them. There are multiple effects of these medications, but one is to reduce or eliminate symptoms of allergies temporarily. However, if you take expired Benadryl, it might just be a big mistake that could bring you no relief at all.

Can You Take Expired Benadryl?: Reasons People Take Expired Medicine

Every day, millions of people buy prescription drugs, such as allergy medications. The thought of keeping these pills for years is entirely inconsequential. After all, the expiration date on these medications is often years away. 

There are many reasons why people don’t throw out their expired medication. This includes the fact that they do not want to waste money. Some of the major reasons people take expired medicine are;

  • People are Careless

Every medicine has an expiry date that you have to follow. After the expiry date, the medicine becomes less effective, and some of its chemical qualities change. The problem with the expired medication is that most people are careless enough to take expired ones at times.

  • They Need it Urgently

It’s not always because someone is sick or under the weather. Sometimes, people will take expired medicine due to needing it immediately. Whether it’s an hour before an important event or hours before an appointment. Such situations may force people to take expired medicine.

  • They Are Unfamiliar with Expiry Dates

Most people are unfamiliar with the expiry dates of medicines. Some people even take expired medications because they do not realize that there is something wrong with them. Sometimes, the expiration date of the pills is written in a way that is hard to read or understand.

  • They are Under the Impression its Effectiveness Lasts Forever

Some people do not observe the expiration date on their medicines, and instead of discarding them, they will continue to use them even after they have expired. They think that the medicine would still be useful and effective, and they can continue using it. This is not so because all drugs have a period of effectiveness, just like food items.

  • They May not Know Expired Benadryl Might be Harmful

Having an expired medicine does not necessarily mean it will harm you. However, it should be avoided for a couple of reasons. First, a medication may lose its effectiveness over time, and then it no longer works as intended. Second, some drugs have a limited shelf life. This means they should be disposed of after a certain period to prevent any other harmful consequences.

Is It Okay To Take Expired Allergy Medicine?

For the most part, if the medicine you take expires, it will not hurt you. Almost all drugs have a time limit of no longer than four years to expire. While most people feel that expired medicine is safe. There may be problems such as loss of effectiveness and possibly dangerous effects if it has been exposed to high temperatures or humidity.

Regardless, there are different kinds of allergy medications with varying expiration dates. So, there’s no guarantee that taking expired allergy medicine will have any severe side effects. On the other hand, there is no guarantee of its effectiveness.

Dangers Of Taking Expired Medication 

Everyone knows that expired medication is not as potent as fresh medication. Also, it becomes harmful to your health as it may contain bacteria and fungi. This is why you should avoid taking expired medications. 

The expiration date of the drug is precise and is mentioned by the manufacturer purposely. However, there are some people who tend to ignore this detail and instead use these drugs, which can lead to untimely death.

Here we have a list of some dangers of taking expired medication.

1. The Medication is No Longer Effective

There are many dangers associated with expired medication. One of the most common concerns is that the medicine will not be as effective. This is because some of its active ingredients lose their potency from being exposed to air, light and time

2. It Might be Harmful

Taking expired medications may be harmful in some cases. Most times, these cases occur when the drug is past its expiration date by many years.

In this case, they are not only ineffective in curing an illness but can cause harm to the consumer.

3. Storage Conditions may Not be Suitable

Scientifically, the storage conditions may not be suitable anymore. The changes in temperature, humidity, and other atmospheric conditions can alter the state of the drugs inside the bottle. This leads to structural changes that compromise the safety of these medications.

4. Allergic Reactions may Occur

If you take expired medication or antihistamines, you could be at risk of having an allergic reaction. Especially if something in the formula has changed since the date on the packaging

The Bottomline 

Many pharmacists have offered that expired Benadryl (medication) can still be taken. Although, it is best to heed the manufacturers potency date (expiration date).

With the state of the economy, there has been a lot of talk about cutting costs. Unfortunately, this can lead to people taking expired medications.

Many of us keep old over-the-counter medications in the house in case they are needed. But in some cases, it is actually dangerous to take expired medications. 

Once a medication is past its useful life, it no longer retains the same potency as originally purchased. This might lead to allergic reactions or other serious side effects if you take those medications, just like how people ask Can you take Benadryl and Zyrtec with Claritin, Allegra

Can You Take Expired Benadryl: FAQs

What medications become toxic after expiration?

Many medications are stable for years, even decades when properly stored in their original packaging at room temperature. But others, such as some antibiotics and nitroglycerin tablets which lose potency very quickly after their expiration dates.

Is taking Benadryl every night bad for you?

Thinking about taking Benadryl every night? Don’t. The dangers are real. If you have trouble sleeping you should see your doctor or try some natural alternatives instead of over-the-counter drugs. 

Does Benadryl make you sleepy?

Benadryl is a popular brand name of diphenhydramine, an antihistamine. This remedy is commonly used to treat allergy symptoms and motion sickness and also to help induce sleep. The drug’s widely reported sedating effects have made it widely popular for recreational use.

Does Benadryl make you gain weight?

While most people don’t gain weight permanently from taking Benadryl, some people become dependent on it. Chronic use of antihistamines can interfere with the body’s absorption of fat. This means that weight loss efforts may actually be impeded by chronic Benadryl use.

Can you take Benadryl while Pregnant?

It is safe to take Benadryl during pregnancy if needed. It works well, but you can’t take it long-term and beyond the recommended dosage.

Can you take Benadryl while breastfeeding?

If a mother is breastfeeding and she needs to take Benadryl, it’s best to be in the middle of exclusively breastfeeding.

Can you give a child Benadryl?

Yes you can give a child Benadryl. Benadryl for children is available and should only be given under  the prescription of  a qualified doctor.

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