OTC or Over-The-Counter medicines are those types of medicines that all of us can purchase without a prescription from your doctor. And most of the time, these medicines are typically found in our first aid kits and medicine cupboards. But how well do you know about OTC medicines? How well are you acquainted with its benefits, side effects, and even risks?
That came surprisingly, right? The fact is that there’s a lot of things that you should know about OTC medicines and you must know about them as it plays a vital role in your health.
Just because it’s an OTC medicine, it doesn’t mean it’s risk-free.
Yes, you’ve read that right! Not just because you can buy a specific treatment without a doctor’s prescription, it automatically means it’s risk-free. For example, purchasing ibuprofen for your headache can relieve your current situation. But taking a double dose can damage your stomach or intestines.
The most important thing to remember is that every medication carries different risks and benefits. Also, it plays a part in that you take the correct dose of an OTC drug for a specific problem.
OTC drugs can have influence or may interact differently with the other prescribed drug you’re taking.
This is one thing that you should take in mind before you purchase and intake an OTC medicine, make sure that you inform your attending physician first. This goes especially to patients under a prescribed medication as their maintenance just as two different drugs when taken may have to interact differently and may cause adverse and unwanted side effects.
OTC vitamins and minerals are different when it comes to testing than prescribed medications.
Vitamins B, C, or vitamin D strengths range from 400 to 2000 IU’s, all of which are essential in keeping a healthy body and robust immune system, that’s why many consumers purchase their vitamins via the counter because they cost less. However, the main difference is their testing phase.
Not all OTC vitamins and minerals go through a clinical trial phase to conduct their safety and efficacy. And because of this lack of trials and lack of clinical data, there might be unforeseen situations that might lead to different drug interactions or dose inconsistencies.
OTC medicines come in many different variations.
Try and visit your local pharmacy and go to the OTC aisle and you’ll be welcome with a head-spinning display of different OTC medicines. This is the real deal in OTC medicines. If you’re looking for a specific Vitamin C, you can see vast choices according to dosage, variety of strengths, and combinations that might lead you to confusion.
Sometimes, other consumers buy a different variation that doesn’t suit them. For these cases, always ask for your local pharmacist’s help as they are more knowledgeable when it comes to these things.
OTC medicines can easily be abused.
It may sound not very comforting, but that’s the real thing with OTC medicines. No prescription required, and anybody can buy it, which sometimes leads to abusive practices.
Also, since OTC medicines are made available for everyone, reading and knowing what’s inside it and what it is made of is sometimes scary. DXM, for one, can cure mild cough and is often found in medicine such as Robitussin and Coricidin HBP. But too much DXM intake may lead to medical emergencies such as overdosage, poisoning, and even death.
It can be harmful to people with chronic disorders if taken without guidance.
If an OTC treatment is used incorrectly, it can exacerbate a number of chronic conditions. Since OTC drugs are intended mainly for occasional use by otherwise healthy individuals, people with serious or chronic disorders or who wish to take an OTC drug on a daily basis should consult a health care professional before purchasing OTC products.
In such situations, substance use extends beyond the usual scope of self-care and necessitates the assistance of a professional.
OTC medicine must be taken with caution when pregnant or breastfeeding
Drugs may be passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn child. A healthy amount of medication for the mother may be too much for the unborn baby. If you’re pregnant, please consult a doctor before taking any medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter.
While most drugs move into breast milk at concentrations too low to cause harm to the infant, breastfeeding mothers must exercise caution, before taking any drug while breastfeeding, consult your doctor or pharmacist. A doctor or pharmacist will advise you on how to change the dosing and timing of most medications so that the baby is subjected to the least amount possible or whether the drugs should be avoided entirely.
Self-Care Comes With Great Responsibility
The FDA or the Food and Drug Association made it possible for anyone to have access to approved drugs via OTC. This is to impose and practice self-care for every individual. Also, OTC helps a lot in relieving momentary pain without visiting a doctor or getting admitted to a hospital. However, though, self-care comes with responsibility. As the FDA would like to quote it, “access + knowledge = power.”
Everyone has been given the access to buy any OTC medicine at their discretion. Still, it’s also in their accountability to research, study, and learn what a specific treatment can do to their own body once they take it without a physician’s advice. That’s where power comes in. The ability to take care of yourself and your loved ones lies in your hand.
If you’re unsure of what OTC medicine you’re going to take, uncertain of its possible side effects, and unsure of how much dosage you must take, it’s always better to call a licensed physician for help. Never intake any medicine, even if it’s an OTC, if you’re unsure of its effect.
To Sum it All Up
The fact that OTC medicines are increasing, the stricter the regulation the US FDA imposes. But this also means that every individual must be held accountable for any actions that they take when it comes to self-care. OTC medicines offer great opportunities in practicing self-care, but one should also be responsible for understanding it. As the adage goes, knowledge is power.