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OTC Medicine Safety: 5 Things to Keep in Mind

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There are over 300,000 medications sold without prescription. These are over-the-counter meds. 8 out of 10 consumers buy OTC drugs to treat their symptoms without consulting a doctor. Healthcare providers agree that these types of medicine are “ideal first line of treatment.”
At EssexCare Pharmacy, a provider of pharmacy services in Lodi, New Jersey, we want to emphasize this, though – even if they’re dispensed without a doctor’s prescription, they’re not inferior to prescription drugs. Improper administration could result in adverse effects.
So, to ensure you and your family’s safety when using OTC medicine, keep these 5 things in mind:
  1. Always read your medication’s label before buying or using.
    • The label’s main purpose is consumer information. An OTC med’s label will tell you:
      • Its active ingredients
      • What age it’s for
      • Dosage instructions
      • Safety and health precautions (safe for pregnant women, not meant for people with certain conditions, etc.)
      • Possible side effects
      • How to store
    • The label will:
      • Make you aware of any warnings applicable to you or your loved one
      • Aid in the medicine’s correct administration
      • Inform you of what to avoid when taking that certain medication
  2. Take or dispense the medicine as its instruction states.
    • Giving more than the recommended dosage puts you or your loved ones in harm’s way. Follow the 3 RIGHTs when administering meds, both prescribed and over-the-counter:
      1. Right dosage (how much to take in)
      2. Time (when to take)
      3. Frequency (intervals; example, every 4 hours)
  3. Be careful when taking more than one OTC medication at a time.
    • Always compare ingredients before combining OTC medications. You could be getting more than you need as some OTC drugs target varying symptoms.
    • Example, paracetamol is both a fever reducer and pain reliever. You could be putting your health at risk when you take paracetamol with mefenamic acid or aspirin.
  4. Give only age-appropriate medicine.
    • Don’t give OTC meds meant for adults to children. We usually do this by only giving half of the recommended-for-adult dosage. This puts your little ones at risk to an accidental overdose.
    • Also, always use the calibrated medicine cup or dropper that comes with pediatric OTC syrups. Regular spoons are not reliable measuring tools since their sizes vary.
  5. Talk to your pharmacist.
    • Don’t hesitate to approach your pharmacist or doctor when you have doubts or concerns about your medications. This is particularly important if you’re taking any prescription drugs. Mixing OTC with prescriptions could result in harmful drug reactions.
    • We’re not only a surgical supplies provider. Consultations and counseling are part of our pharmacy services. They’re borne out of our desire to ensure the safety and wellness of every customer that trusts us with their healthcare needs.
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