It’s 2 a.m. and as the first flush of fever hits, you head to the bathroom medicine cabinet in search of your favorite nighttimesniffling- sneezing-coughingaching- stuffy-head-so-youcan- rest elixir, guaranteed to ensure a good night’s sleep.

But a squint at the bottle reveals that what you’re about to swallow actually expired during the Bush 41 administration. Could a slurp hurt? “Absolutely,” says Jerry Lemons, pharmacy manager of the CVS/pharmacy in Loveland.

And, he adds, that date should be respected, whether it’s on a container of cough syrup or a tube of suntan lotion. “It’s better to err on the safe side,” Lemons observes.

“If in doubt, call your doctor or pharmacist. Many people are under the impression that if something smells or tastes OK, it’s still good. That’s just not true.” In fact, adds Lemons, the whole bathroom medicine cabinet idea is a misnomer:

It’s the worst place to keep medication, since tablets can congeal and liquids can lose their potency when exposed to the room’s high humidity and fluctuating temperatures. A better option is to tuck it away on the top shelf of the linen closet, grouping items such as antacids and analgesics together according to their function.

What can be left in the bathroom? Meds you use on a daily basis that are guaranteed to have a short shelf life, as well as such first-aid items as bandages, gauze and antiseptic.