Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that’s used to reduce fever and relieve mild to moderate pain from conditions such as muscle aches, toothaches, common cold, and headaches, and it’s also be used to reduce pain and swelling in conditions such as arthritis. 

At some point, we’ve taken a tablet or two to relieve an aching body part, but does aspirin expire?

Does Aspirin Even Expire?

All medications have their expiration date and are bound to go bad or lose their potency immediately after, but that’s not the case with aspirin. It can still retain much of its potency even beyond the expiry date compared to other medications. But is it safe, though?

What happens if I take expired aspirin?

Aspirin is said to be most effective within 5 years of its manufacture, and experts say that it can still hold about 95% of its potency even after it’s past the expiration date and can still be safely ingested a few years short of that period.

Once it has gone beyond the date, it starts to gradually degrade chemically over time, and you may notice that it has a slight ‘vinegary’ smell to it when you open the bottle. That smell is caused by acetic acid, aspirin’s main component, and salicylic acid. Acetic acid is also an ingredient in making vinegar hence the familiar smell.

How do I prolong the product’s shelf life?

Properly storing your medications can help maintain and prolong the products’ freshness and quality over time. Places with high humidity and heat, such as the bathroom, may not always be ideal places to keep aspirin or any medication for that matter. Instead, you can opt for a dark, dry spot in room temperatures, such as a cabinet or secure closet. 

How do I dispose of expired aspirin?

If you’re thinking of disposing of your expired aspirin, here’s what you should do.

The safest way of disposing of unused or expired medicines is by immediately dropping them off at an official drug take-back site, location, or program. You may check if your area has one.

Another popular method goes like this: WIthout crushing the tablets or capsules, mix the medicines with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds and place the mixture in a disposable container such as a zip-lock or sealable plastic bag, and throw the container away along with your household trash.

Contrary to what most people do, medications should NEVER be poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet as they cannot be effectively removed from public waterways this way and may cause environmental pollution. If your area has a waste-to-energy facility, you may dispose of pharmaceutical drugs with your household trash.

How to Find the Expiration Date of Aspirin

The expiration date for your aspirin can usually be found in one of two places:

Aspirin Bottles

Aspirin expiration Date bottle

Most brands tend to put the expiration date at the backmost part of the bottle, where you can see the label “EXP” followed by an indicated month and year.

Aspirin Boxes

Aspirin expiration Date packet

For boxes and packets, the expiration date can either be found on either side, the back, or the visible bottom part on the box’s adhesive or folding area. It’s also usually written in the same way as with the bottles.

Side Effects Of Aspirin

Taking aspirin may cause some side effects even before it expires. The following side effects have been reported:

  • Irritation of the stomach or intestines
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach cramps

Other more serious side effects also occur among some people:

  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid breathing
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Convulsions
  • Bloody stools 
  • Coughing up blood 
  • Fever lasting longer than 3 days

Aspirin also acts as a blood thinner and has a long-lasting effect on the platelets. It thins the blood for days after it is taken. As a result, has been recommended to stop taking aspirin 7 to 10 days before surgery since it can increase bleeding.

Other Uses Of Aspirin

Aside from being a painkiller, aspirin has some other important benefits too.

For example, doctors prescribe taking a low dose of aspirin to prevent blood clots since it has been found effective in preventing potentially lethal blood clots in the leg and reducing the risk of blood clots forming inside diseased arteries. This effect reduces the future risk of stroke and heart attacks. 

One should still be cautious in taking them and should always follow prescription rules properly to prevent health-threatening side effects.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

How much aspirin can you take in a day?

The dosage and length of treatment are based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Given its potency, It’s usually given in small/low doses. Doctors usually prescribe a daily dose from 75 mg up to 100 mg (325 mg for people who’ve had heart attacks, angina, or blood clot-related strokes)

Is it safe for children?

Aspirin or products that contain aspirin should not be given to children or adolescents unless under a specific prescription from a doctor. While chewable aspirin tablets are approved for use in children, parents should be very cautious when giving them out as they could still cause some side effects.

Can you take aspirin on an empty stomach?

One should avoid taking aspirin on an empty stomach at all costs since it can result in heartburn. Take it after a meal or having drank water or milk. At the same time, It’s imperative not to drink alcoholic beverages if you are taking aspirin because there is a risk of stomach bleeding.

Can pregnant and breastfeeding women take aspirin?

In lower doses (up to 81mg), aspirin is considered safe for pregnant women with a low risk of serious adverse effects/complications on both the mother and the unborn child. Doctors usually allow aspirin within 12 to 16 weeks of the pregnancy. But expectant mothers should still seek their doctor’s advice before taking such medications to avoid health risks.

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.

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