Does Aspirin Expire?

There are many uses for aspirin, but imagine you grab the medication and see that it is past the expiration date. What do you do? Does Aspirin even expire? You aren't sure if it can cause an illness, or if it will simply not affect your headache.

Like packaged food, medication has a printed expiration date. In 1979, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required that all prescription and over-the-counter medications have an expiration date printed somewhere on the packaging.

First, the expiration date is not necessarily a marker for when medication is no longer effective or unsafe to consume. It simply means that, past that date, the drug manufacturers cannot guarantee full effectiveness, according to Harvard Health Publishing. However, while some medications may not cause harm when consumed after the expiration date, the FDA suggests not consuming expired medication at all. But what if you have a really bad headache and need to take Aspirin? What are the risks?

Aspirin can be safe to consume for years, but it may not be worth the risk

There are definitely certain medications that should not be consumed past the expiration date, such as cough syrup and antibiotics, according to Insider. However, in general, aspirin can be effective for years after the expiration date on the bottle. But that doesn't necessarily mean you should take that aspirin. While the medication can be safe to consume, it doesn't mean it is as effective.

"Past the expiration date, there is no guarantee the medicine is still safe and effective," said Alex Luli, a pharmacist speaking with UC San Diego Health. "If it's aspirin you need for a headache and it's two months past expiration, it's probably fine, but may not work as intended."

The rule of thumb is to simply not risk it. If you have a splitting headache and all you have is expired aspirin, it is probably fine to consume, experts tell Insider. Just know that it may not work as intended. Otherwise, make checking your medication cabinet part of a spring cleaning routine. Properly dispose of any expired medication, including aspirin, by checking the medication's label for disposal instructions or following the FDA's guidelines.