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Good or Bad: Over the counter medications

Updated on September 15, 2013
I hate being sick
I hate being sick | Source

Over the counter medications and herbal remedies

Our health is very important and the time that is most noticeable is when we come down with an illness, that coincides with, an important meeting, a massive caseload, targets to meet or a concert we can’t miss. We run to the supermarket and grab the biggest and brightest package or our favourite medication that promises us relief of our current symptoms. With little thought, to the fact that this medication can adversely affect us.

Sometimes we want to bolster our health and find some fantastic herbal remedy that is good for us and use it regularly. However, when we get sick, we fail to tell our doctor, its become part of the routine, that is good for us. Right?

Herbal remedies are easily obtainable, and have few instructions on them other than the benefits of use. Which help them sell and in most cases are true to an extent. However we aren't informed of how they interact with other medication we maybe given and we need to let the doctor know to ensure our continued health and well being.

Over the counter medications - give the impression that they are safe, why would you think anything else? Its the same place you go to for your your apples or sugar fix.

Believing that over-the-counter medications are safe, is a dangerous misconception. The process that decides how these drugs are accessed is a legislative process. Based on things that are of key concern to the legislator. It depends on the country and what their thoughts are on the subject depends on how the medications can be accessed.

I believe that the main theory behind legislating behind pharmaceuticals in Australia, is generally based on the addiction level, ability to create illicit drugs, and side effects that need to monitored by a doctor.

So I shouldn’t use over the counter medications? Yes and no. Is the simple answer.

The long answer is that if you are taking more than one type of medication be that, a prescribed drug, drinking alcohol, or illicit drugs. You should pay a lot of attention to what the label says. Even consult with a doctor or pharmacist. Mixing drugs, including herbal remedies can be deadly or have serious consequences on your health.

Sometimes you might have to choose between a herbal remedy and chemical remedy, or between drinking and medications. All drugs interact. They all cause reactions. Generally and thankfully most of the time, it only causes the intended effect. A herbal remedy St. John's Wart has been associated with helping relieve symptoms of depression. However taken with prescribed anti-depressants causes problems. The reason that we need to be careful with herbal and chemical remedies is that sometimes the chemical remedy contains some herbal ingredients, as well as number of synthetically based chemicals.

For example paracetamol controls our brains pain impulses and therefore relieve our pain, although too much can cause liver and kidney damage. I am aware of people accidentally overdosing on paracetamol, due to being severely in pain and not paying attention the time restrictions on the label and the recommended daily dose. Which surprisingly enough it has. Also other medications contain paracetamol, like cold and flu, to alleviate pain.

The reason I chose to write on this topic, was that I was on anti-depressants and came down with the flu. My anti-depressants had a number of side effects and restrictions on the packet.
It read don’t use cold and flu medication. I thought fantastic, I will use the herbal ones. As I was very concerned about what I had read about my anti-depressants and the concerns listed under side effects and I had experienced a good number of them before getting any therapeutic effect; I googled every thing in the herbal cold and flu remedy against the exact name of my anti-depressant. Feeling pretty confident that I could take the day time ones. I moved on to the nighttime medication the only ingredient that was different, put it in google with my medication. Within .035 of a second, my page was filled with links that read “DO NOT MIX”. I read on and read that it can cause my kidneys severe harm. The cold and flu mixture was just one grabbed off the shelf of my local supermarket.

I completed a medication endorsement course, for the role I had taken on as a paid carer. In that class, I learned how little people know about medications. One of the other students openly admitted they would give their patient a herbal remedy as well as the prescribed one and saw no problem in doing so. I am a health conscious person I hate being sick, I am a terrible patient, I will do what makes me better quickest. I generally work in areas of prevention so I have studied and asked the health shop food people advice (who have studied at a university level many times.) Pharmacists and Doctors. There are reasons why the doctor , pharmacist and health specialist ask what other medications you are on. Its not to annoy you, but to ensure that you recover from well from your current ailment with no added issues, so your health stays at the best it can be.

Another time that concerned me about how people use medication; I was at Cara's (not real name) house and Hannah (not real name) had just been sharing how they were feeling really sick, and listed their symptoms. Cara offered Hannah their prescription medication - as Cara had the same symptoms, when it had been prescribed to her. Hannah um’d and ah’d, obviously concerned about accepting, prescription medication. I jumped in with my two cents, informing Cara, that prescription medication is prescribed for a reason, and that doesn’t mean it is safe. For that fact neither is over the counter medication, and that misusing medication can have serious side effects (I threw it in for good measure just in case). The look on Cara's face when I said it didn't mean it was safe, told me instantly that she didn't realise that. Nobody had told her that all medication needs to be followed exactly as the packet says and for good measure if you are on more than one "drug" (for use of a better word), you need to discuss it with your doctor or pharmacist.

Just because you can get it off the shelf doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do for yourself at the time.

I don’t want to raise panic, it’s just about awareness and taking the time think about our current medical circumstances and to give all medication the appropriate research it all deserves.

It would be terrible to be trying to do the right thing to fix yourself up quick for the meeting, massive caseload, or concert that you cause yourself damage that is not as easily repaired. When in doubt ask, it is never a silly question to question the medication you are taking. There is always information about them, whether in the packet, an information sheet or online.


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    • Davorunner profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      Yeah I think that's a good idea. True that doctors and chemists know better than us, but we should take some responsibility for our own well-being

    • Abbasangel profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Australia - The land down under

      Thanks Davorunner, its about education not alarming people. If I can make people think about what they are taking it will be a job well done. I am going to find out to the extent I can talk about the exact medications that I researched and found out about, mixing with the herbal ones, and then write about that as well.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      The herbal/ prescription medication thing aroused my interest. It's true that sometimes we don't think about how things can mix. I myself take different kinds of medication, but I'm always well educated, from myself, my doctor, and my chemist if I'm taking something bad.

      On that kind of note, about a year ago or so I (most probably very late-ly realised) that Ventolin, for example isn't on a lot of chemists shelfs anymore, you need to actually ask for it. I was informed that this was because a lot of people were taking it if they thought they had trouble breathing, but not due to anything asthma related. Basically that it was being misused by enough of the general public for them to warrant taking it out of their sight.

      You're right about people not knowing - and thinking- enough about the consequences of these things.

      Good hub.


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