OTC Medications: Know the Risks


aspirin-300x199.jpgMost people are aware that they need to read labels and take special care when dealing with their prescription medicines; however, not all realize that they need to be similarly cautious with over-the-counter (OTC) medications as well.

Assumed safety​​​​​​

Because OTC medications are available without a doctor’s prescription, many assume that they are inherently safe. In fact, as with any medicine, there is a possibility of potential harm associated with many common OTCs. This does not mean the medications should not be used; it simply means that patients and caregivers must be aware of these risks so that they can properly manage medications.


​What are some of the possible risks associated with some OTC drugs? Below are a few examples.

  • Ibuprofen. A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and one of the most popular pain relievers on the market, ibuprofen effectively relieves dreadful headaches and annoying body aches. However, some people - especially those allergic to regular aspirin - have allergic reactions to ibuprofen. Long term users of ibuprofen may increase their risk ulcers and kidney and cardiac issues. Seniors who experience any adverse reactions to ibuprofen should contact their doctors; those who use the pain reliever regularly for an extended period of time should also consult their doctors, even if they are aware of no side effects.

  • Acetaminophen. Like ibuprofen, acetaminophen is a popular painkiller. Used properly, it causes most people no serious issues; however, long term improper use can create serious liver issues, including liver cell death and possible subsequent liver failure. In addition, some cold medicines that include both acetaminophen and phenylephrine (a decongestant) may be related to cardiac and blood pressure problems. Again, consulting a doctor concerning acetaminophen use is recommended.

  • Antihistamines. Antihistamines, which are great for treating symptoms associated colds and flu. Unfortunately however, they also cause drowsiness, which can be problematic for seniors and can lead to falls and other mishaps.

OTC medicines are often an excellent way to treat minor inconveniences; however, always take time determine whether the use of a particular OTC may require special care to ensure safety.​

Related Article:

Home Caregivers: Keep Your Medicine Cabinet Safe​ - newport​news.myhomecareblog.com


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