There are several reasons why some people choose over the counter medication over prescription drugs from a doctor. For starters, over the counter medications are conveniently available and compared to the cost of healthcare services, they provide a more affordable alternative. However, this sometimes comes at a cost. Taking over the counter medication without a doctor’s prescription can have some ripple effects on your body. Whether it’s treating a mild symptom or as a treatment option, your health comes first and you want to ensure that you’ve taken all precautionary measures before taking an over the counter medication.
Remember, just because it is readily available at pharmacy stores and local shops, this doesn’t necessarily mean its risk-free. Additionally, some OTC drugs are well known to cause certain unpleasant effects on the user, and these side effects may range from mild to severe or potentially debilitating. With that in mind, below are some common side effects of over the counter medications that you shouldn’t disregard.
1. Described Side Effects and Contraindications
Most over the counter medications have a warning label indicating some of the side effects you may experience after taking them. Such side effects may include nausea, dizziness, bloating, and sensitivity to light, to mention but a few. The most affected are young children, pregnant and nursing mothers, and the elderly, as well as those with suppressed immunity. The medical professionals at Medicine Direct say that one of the best ways to protect yourself from the adverse effects of over the counter medication is to get your drugs from a trusted source. These days, thanks to the internet, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home. You can seek treatment online, get a prescription, and have the drugs delivered at your doorstep.
2. Allergic Reactions
Most people suffer from different allergies and they may react differently when exposed to certain allergy triggers. Although it’s not as common, various allergic reactions are a result of certain medicines, a phenomenon known as drug allergy. Among the most common allergic reaction symptoms to medication include breathing problems, itching, severe headaches, increased heart rate, and hives, to mention but a few. If you experience any of these symptoms after taking an over the counter medication, then there are higher chances that you’re allergic to the ingredients in the medication. It’s important to discontinue the medication and seek alternative treatment immediately before the side effects get worse.
3. Drug-Nutrient Interaction (Drug-Food Interaction)
What you eat or drink can affect how your body processes the ingredients in the medicines you’re taking. This is especially the case if you have no idea of the ingredients used in certain medications, how they react with your body, or how different foods affect your body processes after taking an over the counter medication. It’s also important to follow the dosage instructions to the letter because certain medications are not to be taken with food – the type that you’re allowed to take on an empty stomach. On the other hand, you also have another category of medication that works well when taken with food.
Additionally, there are different lifestyle consumables such as alcohol that will have an impact on certain medications. This is because alcohol affects the functions of the liver and this, in turn, makes it harder for the liver to process and filter medicines from your system. It’s therefore important to keep your doctor and pharmacist in the loop to prevent adverse side effects.
4. Drug To Drug Interactions
Drug-drug interactions occur when two drugs react with each other in your body. When two drugs are taken simultaneously, it may cause unexpected side effects as a result of either drug becoming less effective or increasing the action of the other. Intensified side effects can be experienced when drugs with the same side effects are taken together. This may also increase the risks of liver damage. Some examples of such interactions include:
- Digoxin and quinidine
- Potassium Chloride and Spironolactone
- Fluoxetine and Phenelzine
- Bromocriptine and Pseudoephedrine
It’s very important that before you take a combination of over the counter medication, you ask your pharmacist if it’s safe to take them with other medications, the foods you need to avoid, and how the drugs will react with your body.
Now, for you to minimize the various risks and side effects of over the counter medication, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the safe use of medication. Below are tips on how to get the most from over the counter medication:
- Read the labels
- seek medication that treats the symptoms
- always consult with your pharmacist when in doubt
- always take caution when taking more than two drugs
- avoid using over the counter medication after their expiry date
When used in the right way, over the counter medications can help to maintain your overall health and alleviate various symptoms. However, one thing to note is that both prescription and over the counter medication have various potential risks. Unfortunately, not all side effects will be avoidable, but taking the above precautionary measures can help prevent or reduce them.