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Health Risks of having over the counter Medications and Supplements

  • October 11, 2021
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There are two types of drugs: prescription-only (Rx only) and over-the-counter (OTC).

Prescription-only drugs are only available with a valid doctor's prescription. These medications are highly regulated and necessitate a visit to a doctor to ensure that the medication is effective and safe.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are available without a prescription and can be purchased directly from a chemist without the need for a visit to a doctor. Aches, pains, and itches such as tooth pain, cough or athlete’s foot etc., can be relieved with some OTC medications. Others might assist in the management of recurring issues such as migraines and allergies.

You may have even seen advertisements of dietary supplements that claim to slim down users without the need for dieting or exercise. Or the ones that will bulk them up and make them the envy of all the other weightlifters in the gym.

Supplements with negative side effects can send you to the hospital.

Their labels may claim that they are completely natural and safe. But many of these products include unapproved and unregulated ingredients. Researchers from the California Department of Public Health discovered that between 2007 and 2016, 776 products marketed as dietary supplements contained unsafe substances.

Young adults were not the only ones who were impacted. Many children under the age of four experienced allergic reactions or digestive symptoms (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain). Patients over the age of 65 were more likely to have difficulty swallowing after taking large-pill vitamins or micronutrients.

Keep in mind that there are still risks to taking OTC medications:

  • The medication you are taking may interact with other medications, supplements, foods, or beverages you are consuming.
  • Some medications are not appropriate for people with certain medical conditions. Certain decongestants, for example, should not be taken by people with high blood pressure.
  • Some people may be allergic to certain medications.
  • Certain medications are not safe for a pregnant woman.

The following are the guidelines for selecting and using OTC medications:

  • Products that try to alleviate every conceivable symptom are more likely to expose people to unnecessary drugs, pose additional risks, and cost more.
  • Read the label carefully to determine the correct dose and precautions, as well as what conditions would make the drug unsuitable.
  • When in doubt, consult a pharmacist or doctor to determine the best ingredient or product to use.
  • Inquire with your pharmacist about any potential interactions with other medications you are taking or any side effects.
  • If your symptoms worsen, stop taking the medication and consult the doctor immediately.
  • Keep all drugs, including over-the-counter medications, out of children's reach.

Although OTC drugs can be obtained without consulting a doctor or pharmacist, patients should be aware that they still pose a risk. Some over-the-counter medications may have negative consequences. It is necessary to inform a doctor about all OTC medications used, as well as to follow the dosing instructions on the label.