OTC or over-the-counter medicines are medicines that can be bought by the public without a prescription from a licenced medical health professional. These medicines are used to treat common illnesses like cough, cold, fever, headache, stomach problems, etc. They are usually less potent than prescription drugs but still effective. A lot of OTC medicines like Ibuprofen, Paracetamol, Aspirin, Robitussin, Pepto-Bismol, etc. are widely popular and have become quick treatments for common illnesses. Due to their easy availability and effectiveness, OTC medicines have more sales than prescription medicines. Most people store OTC medicines in their homes and take it when required. As a precaution, some people also carry OTC medicines wherever they go in case of emergencies.
Though there are some people that develop the habit of taking OTC medicines very casually instead of going to the doctor. They believe that these medicines are harmless and continue to take them every time they get ill. However, OTC medicines do have side effects and if taken more frequently for a long time, it can have adverse effects on your body. Most people carelessly take these medicines without reading their label. There are a lot of things which should be taken into consideration before taking OTC medicines. Different OTC medicines contain different types of chemical ingredients. You should make sure that you are not allergic to the chemical ingredient that is present in the medicine you’re taking. If you’re taking two medicines at a time, there is a possibility of a drug-drug interaction. One medicine could double, cancel out or alter the effects of another medicine. This happens when the chemical ingredients in the medicines are either similar or they contradict each other. Some medicines can even interact with food or liquids that you are taking before or after taking the medicine.
All of these things deem harmful if the medicines are not taken properly. There are certain guidelines to be followed before taking these medicines. Here are some of the guidelines: –
- Always read the instructions on the label of the medicine to know if you should be taking that medicine and if yes, how you should be taking it.
- Don’t take OTC medicines too often. Your body might become dependent on them.
- If you take these medicines for a long time (for years), it might develop some complications.
- Be careful of what food or liquid you’re having before or after you take a dose.
- Before giving an OTC medicine to child, read the label and see if your child’s age matches the age criteria of the medicine. Use a proper measuring spoon to give the right amount of dose.
- If you are pregnant, be sure to check whether the medicine doesn’t affect you or the baby. Such warnings must be given on the label.
- If you don’t understand the instructions and information given on the label, do consult a licenced medical health professional.
One should know the right way to take OTC medicines otherwise it could have harmful effects on the body or mind. With the right knowledge and information about these medicines and their effects on your body will definitely help taking these medicines in the correct manner. Every human body is different; therefore, you should be careful while taking these medications. If you have any dangerous reactions to any of the OTC medicines, do seek help as soon as possible.