Using Over-The-Counter Medications Safely

Over the counter (OTC) medications are used daily by a great number of people.

When properly used, these medications can be safe, and can provide effective relief from a number of conditions, allowing people to care for themselves without having to see their local doctor.

However, OTC medications must be used properly to be safe.

Here are some tips for using and choosing OTC medications.

The first step is to carefully read the packaging details on any OTC medication. Some OTC medications are contraindicated for people taking certain prescription drugs, or who suffer from certain medical conditions.

Many cold remedies, for example, are not appropriate for people who suffer from hypertension. If an OTC medication is contraindicated for a condition you have, or a medication you take, try another product, or ask your pharmacist for help in choosing a medication.

Your doctor or pharmacist can help you determine if an OTC medication is safe with any prescription medications or other supplements you may be taking.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should always consult their doctor before taking any OTC medication to prevent injury to their baby.

While you are reading those package labels, pay special attention to the list of active ingredients. Do not take more than one medication with the same active ingredient.

For example, do not take a cough syrup which contains a cough suppressant if you are already taking a multi-symptom cold remedy which contains a cough syrup.

You should either look for one combination product that will control all of your symptoms, or purchase separate medications that address each symptom individually; the former is probably more convenient.

Always pay special attention to the amount and frequency of dosing, and follow these instructions carefully. Some medications are not suitable for children younger than 12; never give an adult medication to a child.

Be sure to tell your doctor about any OTC medications or supplements you are taking.