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Thread: How long do antibiotics last?

  1. #1
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    Default How long do antibiotics last?

    I'm getting some antibiotics through a doc in the family to keep in my first aid kit while woods bumming. I'll keep in the fridge the rest of the time. How long should they last?
    Fire without movement is a waste, movement without fire is suicide.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How long do antibiotics last?

    The potency decreases slowly. When they reach the expiration date (ask the pharmacist when you pick them up) they still are 90% or more effective. You can keep them a long time without harm. The pharmacist can give you more information about the particular ones you are getting. Remember that certain ones work for skin, sinus, and perhaps lung infections while others are better for diarrhea.

  3. #3
    JasonB Guest

    Default Re: How long do antibiotics last?

    What kind are you getting?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How long do antibiotics last?

    They're being sent from AZ. I think I requested penicillan but might of said whatever is cheapest easiest to get. I'm not a big fan of antibiotics but see their purose. Burns, no, a severe case of fish poisoning, yes. It's just a usefull tool that I thought I might add to my kit. I suppose 50% effectiveness is better than nothing.
    Fire without movement is a waste, movement without fire is suicide.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How long do antibiotics last?

    Its a smart thing to keep - we have a few "z-paks" and cipro in our house.

    The zithromax is a great antibiotic as its just one pill once a day for 5 days or so and it isnt too rough on the stomach.

    The cipro, well, it don't come more powerful than that! We keep it for when we travel out of the country - just got some more for our upcoming trip to south africa. Of all the tropical disease docs I've visited before trips, they always recommend we carry cipro.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How long do antibiotics last?

    Penicillin actually kills bacteria which are susceptible and is very cheap, unfortunately it is becoming less useful. For many things you will need cipro or levaquin.

  7. #7

    Default Re: How long do antibiotics last?

    The problem with antibiotics is that some have a have a very narrow range of bacteria that they kill. They don’t all work the same (that is they don’t all have the same mechanism of action), and they don’t all have the same side effects. Some antibiotics are only effective on aerobic bacteria others on anaerobic (as well as gram positive and gram negative bacteria). Fortunately Penicillin is a broad spectrum antibiotic (which means that it can “kill” many different types of bacteria). You can’t just decide that you’ll carry any old antibiotic. It may or may not be effective against the bacterial infection you’re trying to combat. As a matter, in the field (away from a hospital) there would be no way of knowing what kind of bacterial infection you have (and therefore would not know how to treat it). Without a hospital administered blood culture (systemic infection) or some other type of culture you would be completely in the dark about the infection you have. No antibiotic has a spectrum broad enough to kill all bacteria. I am a board certified pharmacy technician so I know a little about the subject, and I would leave the antibiotics at home. Like most other drugs all manner of environmental conditions can accelerate the degradation of antibiotics. Sun, heat, cold, moisture just to name a few. If you’re woods bumming you will most certainly be subjected to all of the above. You’re better off bringing a couple of packets of Emergen-C, and relying on your immune system to hold out until you get out of the woods. Or taking a dose prophylacticly if you think you’ll be exposed to nasty bugs.

    Some of these antibiotics can have dangerous side effects. Allergies to Penicillin are relatively common which might be a problem when administering these drugs to others in your party. Anaphylactic shock isn’t something you want to have to deal with in the field. Other side effects include sensitivity to UV light, drug interactions, liver/renal toxicity. They use certain types of antibiotics to treat patients with alcoholism. Some antibiotics cause alcohol to be absorbed differently producing a nasty aldehyde like chemical that makes the person very sick when they drink. If they keep drinking they can die. That just illustrates what kind of nasty side effects these drugs can have when taken without regard to contraindications.

    I had a friend that had some tetracycline laying around that he thought he would just throw in his hiking bag just in case. Though it took some arguing he was finally convinced that it wasn’t a good idea. If tetracycline “goes bad” it can cause renal failure, and unless you carry a dialysis machine in your pack you could be in some serious trouble.

    This may not be a huge issue if you keep the drugs fresh and you keep them protected from the aforementioned environmental conditions but you would still have the problem of not knowing what type of bacterial was causing the problem. Then you have to consider that the "infection" that you're suffering from could not be caused by bacterial at all. It could be viral, and despite what people may think antibiotics are COMPLETELY INEFFECTIVE AGAINST VIRUSES.

    That’s my advice but I would ask a pharmacist (not a doctor). As a matter of fact I wouldn’t ask just any pharmacist I would ask a pharmacist that engages in the same type outdoor adventures you do. Most people think camping and hiking is roasting weenies and singing Kum-bi ya. They’re not hip to the rough stuff we subject ourselves, our gear and our medicine to.

    That’s my 2 cents. Hope it helped.
    Last edited by one911emergency; 07-28-2009 at 10:38 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How long do antibiotics last?

    Thanks, very informative. I'm not allergic to penicillan and would NEVER give it to anyone else. I am however giving this idea some second thoughts do to the possible toxicity of "old" drugs. I would more than likely not rotate it.

    I avoid antibiotics for the most part (my arm healed nicely without any) but was thinking having some around in case my ax mistook my foot for a log 2 weeks into a month long, solo, canoe trip might be a good idea.
    Fire without movement is a waste, movement without fire is suicide.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How long do antibiotics last?

    I would not keep pills in the fridge.

    Taking them in and out would like lead to condensation and degrade them faster than if you just kept them in a closet on a shelf (not in bathroom)

    Drugs, in general, don't like light, heat, and moisture.
    Hunting. Exercising dominion over creation at 2800 fps

  10. #10
    JasonB Guest

    Default Re: How long do antibiotics last?

    Quote Originally Posted by one911emergency View Post
    I had a friend that had some tetracycline laying around that he thought he would just throw in his hiking bag just in case. Though it took some arguing he was finally convinced that it wasn’t a good idea. If tetracycline “goes bad” it can cause renal failure, and unless you carry a dialysis machine in your pack you could be in some serious trouble.
    Even if it was "good" it would have been bad when he was out in the sun all day while popping it.

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