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If you have a headache or sore muscles, ibuprofen could help offer the relief you’re looking for. However, if you open your medicine cabinet to discover that the ibuprofen you have is expired, you might be wondering whether you could still take it and get the relief you’re seeking. Does the expiration date really mean anything? Does ibuprofen go bad? Today, we’re going to look at whether it is a good idea to use expired ibuprofen and discuss how long does ibuprofen take to go bad.

Which medications have ibuprofen in them?

People take ibuprofen for a variety of ailments. From fever to body pains including muscle aches, menstrual cramps, back and neck pain, toothaches, headaches, and more, ibuprofen is a staple in many household medicine cabinets.

Ibuprofen is the active ingredient in many over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers. Some of these brand names that you’ve probably heard of include Motrin, Advil, and PediaCare. You’ll also find generic or store brands with ibuprofen as the active ingredient.

Does ibuprofen go bad after expiration date?

Can I take ibuprofen that expired 2 years ago? Taking expired medications is generally not a good idea. Manufacturers set expiration dates for a reason. The medications are only studied and shown to be effective up to the printed date.

That means that taking a medication that has already expired, particularly by a long amount of time, can be risky. If the ibuprofen’s effectiveness has worn off, it won’t perform as you are expecting. If you have a headache, fever, or backache, the ibuprofen won’t be able to deliver the full extent of its pain-relieving and fever-reducing benefits. This could leave your condition untreated and prevent you from feeling better – which was the whole point of you deciding to take medication.

In the event of a very high fever, taking ibuprofen could be especially risky, as it may not lower your fever enough. Running a high fever for an extended period of time can be dangerous.

Advil’s website, for example, states that it is not recommended to take expired Advil. They say that the medicine loses potency with time. If expired Advil is used, the consumer may not get enough of the active ingredient to find relief from the pain they’re experiencing.

does ibuprofen lose effectiveness

Does ibuprofen lose effectiveness?

As we shared above, ibuprofen (along with most other medications) does lose effectiveness. Using ibuprofen – such as Advil or Motrin – up to the printed expiration date should be fine. The manufacturers have performed testing to confirm its efficacy to this date. However, using it past this date may mean that the drug will have lost effectiveness and won’t treat your condition as well as a new product could.

Does liquid ibuprofen go bad?

Liquid ibuprofen, just like tablets and capsules, will also go bad. It is not safe to use liquid ibuprofen past the expiration date. It is also worth noting the liquid medicines will deteriorate more quickly than tablets or capsules. A bottle of liquid ibuprofen can also become contaminated. This can lead to bacteria growth, especially if the bottle has been opened for an extended period of time and is past the expiration date.

When does ibuprofen go bad?

How does ibuprofen go bad after time? The exact expiration date of the bottle of ibuprofen you purchase will vary depending on when and where you purchased it. Unless you purchased an old bottle, the expiration date for ibuprofen products should be at least 2 years out.

ibuprofen in hands

Does ibuprofen go bad in the heat?

FDA requirements state that manufacturers of over the counter drugs, such as Advil, Motrin, and other ibuprofen products, must test their medications for efficacy when stored at various humidity and temperature levels that are within the recommended ranges. In addition to testing medications for efficacy when stored at the recommended temperature or humidity levels, drug manufacturers must also conduct stress testing.

During this type of testing, the medications are exposed to conditions that are not considered an ideal storage scenario. These less than ideal conditions may include extreme heat, direct sunlight, or a humid environment. The manufacturers need to ensure that these storage conditions do not negatively impact the safety of the medication.

So, if ibuprofen sits in the heat, it is likely still safe. However, its may not be as effective or perform as desired. 

How do you dispose of expired ibuprofen?

Now that you’ve learned that taking expired ibuprofen isn’t the best idea, you may be wondering what you should do with your old medication. Proper disposal of expired medication is essential to prevent putting children, pets, or the environment in danger.

When disposing of expired medication, never flush it down the toilet. Doing so will introduce the drugs into waterways and could potentially harm animals or introduce them back into our water systems.

Instead of flushing expired medications, there are two disposal methods that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends. Their top recommended choice is to find a local drug take-back event. Check with your local government to find out if they will be hosting any drug take-back programs. During these events, you can bring any expired medications for proper disposal.

If you can’t find a local drug take-back event, the next best thing is to properly dispose of the medications yourself. When doing this, you will want to make sure that the drugs don’t look appealing to anyone who may inadvertently come across them. The EPA recommends mixing the expired drugs with cat litter, coffee grounds, or another unappealing substance. The mixture should be placed into a disposable container and covered with a lid. This container should be placed in a sealed trash bag, which can then be placed out for garbage collection.

how long does ibuprofen take to go bad

Expired Ibuprofen: Key Takeaways

Taking expired medications, including ibuprofen, is not advisable. Overtime, medications lose their effectiveness, which means they may not perform as intended. When you take ibuprofen, you’re typically looking for pain relief or to lower a fever, so you want to make sure you take a non-expired product that will deliver the relief your body needs.

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