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Tips for Safely Using Over the Counter (Otc) Medicine

Updated on May 28, 2020

Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are used to treat many types of conditions, from headaches to stomachaches. These medicines are easily accessible because you do not need a prescription from a doctor to purchase them. Therefore, OTC medicines are an appealing treatment option that's why it necessary to take precautions before purchasing over the counter drugs.

OTC medicine include pain killers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), cough suppressants such as dextromethorphan (Robitussin) and antihistamines like loratadine (Claritin).

What Conditions Can Be Treated Using Over-the-Counter Medicine?

  • This article reviews a few of these medications that can help treat
  • OTC medications have brand names as well as generic and store brand names (similar to prescription medications). Generic, store, and brand names contain the same active ingredients and are identical in their action on the body if the concentration of the active ingredients are the same.
  • Because some OTC pills and liquids contain multiple medications, it is important to read the fine print on the label to know exactly what ingredients are in the product.

Can Over-the-Counter Drugs Be Dangerous?

  • Even though they do not require a prescription, OTC medications may cause significant side effects. Some can interact with prescription medications and cause harm (for example, patients who take warfarin [Coumadin], a blood thinner, are at higher risk of bleeding from ulcers if they take OTC ibuprofen) while others products can cause organ damage if taken in amounts greater than recommended (for example, acetaminophen may cause liver failure; aspirin may cause lung and kidney damage).
  • Before taking any OTC medication or dietary supplement, read the label, especially the dosage, frequency, and precautions sections.
  • If you have any questions or concerns in regard the use of any OTC medication or dietary supplement, contact a medical health care practitioner or pharmacist for clarification.

Here are few tips that are necessary to ensure the use of OTC medicine.

1. Consult your doctor or pharmacist before purchasing an OTC medicine:Your doctor or pharmacist can help you to select the best choice of medicine which is more benifical on the bases of your medical history.They should be aware of allergies you have or other prescription or OTC medicines you are taking.

2. Do not take medicines with the same active constituents:The active constituents are the component in the drug that treat the problem. The active ingredient is listed on the Drug Facts label. The active ingredient may be in a number of different OTC medicines. For example, OTC pain relievers such as Advil and brufen both have the active ingredient ibuprofen, so they should not be taken together. It can lead to serious side effects or a life-threatening overdose. So, when purchasing OTC products, always compare labels.

3. Read the label carefully:The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires drug manufacturers to include specific information on OTC medicines which the user to understand the usage,side effects,therapeutic effects,drug-drug interaction,drug food interaction,expiry of medicine.

4.Only treat the symptoms you have: OTC medicine may present in combination of two or more active ingredient like panadol extra(Paracetamol and Caffeine),panadol Cf(Paracetamol,Chlorpheniramine and Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride).Each active ingredient treats a different symptom so it is necessary to use particular active ingredient for particular symptom.

5.If you are pregnant or breastfeeding consult with your doctor or pharmacsit before taking an OTC medicine: Some OTC medicines are harmful to a developing baby in fetus. Some medicines a breastfeeding mom may take can pass through her breast milk and may harm her baby. It isgood to ask your doctor before taking any medicine while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

6. Always check the expiration date:Never use medicines that are expired. According to FDA, a medicine can become less effective or more potent after its expiration date.

7.Only use the measuring device that comes with the OTC product:Household measuring spoons and other kitchen utensils (e.g., teaspoons) should not be used to measure a dose of medicine. Using these items can result in taking more or less of a medicine than is recommended. Instead, always use the measuring device that comes with the OTC product.

8.Seek medical attention if your symptoms get worse or you experience side effects:If your symptoms do not improve or if you feel worse after taking a few doses of an OTC medicine, contact your doctor. Continuing to self-treat can delay you from receiving the medical treatment necessary for what may be a serious health condition.


OTC Drug Facts Label

Don’t Be Tempted To Use Expired Medicines. Updated March 1, 2016. Accessed May 5, 2018


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