Published On: Fri, Feb 13th, 2015

Safety and Precautionary Measures You Need to Know About Over-the-Counter Drugs

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amenic181 at freedigitalphotos.netFor common health problems and non-emergency medical cases such as colds, cough, allergies, headache, and flu, people highly depend on over-the-counter (OTC) or non-prescription drugs. It’s a universal practice to have your first-aid kits and medicine cabinets stocked with OTCs. Some people even buy in bulk, especially if they already have trusted brands for treating specific health conditions.

Over-the-counter drugs offer fast relief and convenience, but how safe are they? What precautions should you take when using OTCs? Draper pharmacy shares some information.

Read Directions and Labels

Before taking any over-the-counter medication, make it a habit to read the label and dosing instructions. Proper dosage and frequency of intake must be followed as specified. Be wary of different formulations. For instance, one OTC brand can have various formulations (e.g. immediate-release, delayed-release, and extended-release medications), these may contain different ingredients that you should be aware of. Dosage may vary, too.

Take Note of Side Effects

Your body can have unpleasant reactions to OTC drugs that may not be related to your previous symptoms. Read all there is to know about the medicine that you are taking and check if the side effect(s) you are experiencing after taking the drug is on the list. If not, discontinue use and check with your physician.

Understand Drug-Drug Interactions and Overlap

One of the dangers of taking OTC drugs, especially when treating more than one symptom, is the risk of drug-to-drug interactions. You may be unaware that you have ingested ingredients that are not supposed to be taken together. There is also the possibility that you are taking different OTC drugs at the same time without realizing they have the same active ingredient. This can be potentially dangerous if the overlap causes you to exceed the recommended dosage.

Be Careful With Your Self-Diagnosis

People who take OTC drugs are often too confident about their self-diagnosis. Symptoms, as long as they are manageable, are usually treated with these non-prescription medicines. But, it is important to know when to seek a doctor’s care. As they say, if symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

Taking OTC drugs may be convenient and generally safe (if taken properly), but everyone needs to be responsible when using them. If you have questions about what OTCs to take for your symptom, you can visit your local pharmacy.

About the Author

Gabby Cummins

- As a Physical Education teacher at a university in Nevada, Gabby divides her time between taking care of her children and going to different conferences about her profession.