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Has this ever happened to you? Stomach acid is causing indigestion or heartburn, so you open the medicine cabinet to take a few Tums. The only problem is that the bottle expired a few months (or even a few years) ago. Do Tums expire? Is there anything wrong with taking a few expired Tums? Will they still help alleviate your upset stomach, indigestion, or heartburn? Keep reading, and we’ll explore these questions.
What are Tums?
Tums are an over-the-counter medication that are designed to treat conditions caused by high levels of stomach acid, such as heartburn and indigestion. Calcium carbonate, the active ingredient in Tums, is a type of antacid that helps to decrease the amount of acid in the stomach. Decreasing stomach acid then helps to alleviate indigestion, heartburn, and other conditions.
Tums offers a range of product types including tablets, chews, smoothies, and more. Some of their most popular options include:
When do Tums expire?
How long do Tums last for? The specific expiration date on your package of Tums will depend on a range of factors.
Most important in determining when Tums expire is when the product’s manufacturing date. Even if you just purchased a bottle of Tums from the store or online, it could have been sitting around for a white before it was sold.
However, as a general rule, if you get a new bottle of Tums, the expiration date will likely be at least two or three years in the future.
Do Tums work less when they expire?
There is mixed information about whether some medications are effective past their expiration date. For example, the military has been studying medicines to show their effectiveness past their printed expiration date.
However, manufacturers and most doctors would advise against using an expired medication. They will tell you that the medicine has only been shown to be effective up until its expiration date. If the Tums you take have lost their effectiveness, they won’t work as well to decrease stomach acid. This means that you won’t be able to find relief from the heartburn or indigestion you’re experiencing.
Can expired Tums make you sick?
While it is unlikely that if Tums expire they will make you sick, it is still not a good idea to take Tums that are past their expiration date.
As we mentioned above, medications have expiration dates because they are studied and shown to be effective up until those dates. After the expiration date, the medication begins to lose its potency, which means it won’t be as effective.
When you think about the reason you’re reaching for a bottle of Tums, it is likely because you are trying to find relief from a condition caused by stomach acid. If the Tums are expired, they are less likely to be as effective as a new bottle. Do you really want to take medication only for it not to work? This could put you in a bind of not knowing when or how much more you could safely take if the Tums didn’t perform as expected and your symptoms persisted.
Moreover, the manufacturer of Tums does not recommend taking them if they have expired. On the frequently asked question page on Tums’ website, the manufacturer writes: “Tums products include an expiration date on the package label. We do not recommend using Tums after the expiration date.”
How should you store Tums?
Proper storage of Tums is essential for ensuring the tablets do not go bad before their expiration date. Calcium carbonate, the main ingredient in Tums, is sensitive to heat and moisture. Store Tums in their original container in a cool and dry location.
While many people like to store medicines like Tums in the bathroom, this is not the ideal storage location. Tums could absorb moisture from a humid bathroom, which could impact their texture.
Do Tums go bad in heat? As mentioned above, the best option is to store Tums in a cool and dry location as mentioned above. However, part of the testing process for medications involves storing them in conditioner outside of those deemed ideal. Manufacturers need to make sure that the medications remain safe to use, even if they aren’t stored as is recommended. However, storing Tums in high heat could still negatively impact their effectiveness.
One final note related to storing Tums: always keep Tums away from any location where a child or pet could gain access to them. Tums are colorful and flavored, which can make them look appealing to a young child. If a child eats too many Tums, it could lead to serious side effects, including constipation or diarrhea. If your child or pet does eat some or multiple Tums, be sure to reach out to a medical professional immediately.
What can you do with old Tums?
Properly dispose of any unwanted or or expired medications to avoid causing accidental harm to another individual or the environment. Check with your local government to see if they offer a drug take back program. This program allows you to bring any of your expired medications, such as Tums, to an official collection spot for proper disposal.
If you cannot find a drug take back program near you, you can dispose of old medications at home. Never flush medicines down the drain unless it is specifically noted on the packaging.
Rather, you can dispose of old medications in your household trash by first mixing them with cat litter, dirt, old coffee grounds, or something else that will make them look unappealing to anyone who may find them. Place the mixture in a container with a lid or a sealed bag and put it out with your trash.
Expired Tums: What You Should Do
If you have expired Tums, the best option is not to use them. While it is unlikely that they will cause you any serious harm, expired Tums are less likely to be as effective. Because you’re reaching for them to help alleviate a symptom you’re experiencing, you’re less likely to find the relief that you’re looking for by taking expired Tums. Try to run out to the store and grab a new bottle, or place an online order instead!