Aspirus Medical Monday: Over the counter medications

Local News

UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – From pain relievers to cold remedies, you can easily buy over-the-counter (OTC) medicines at many stores—and without a prescription from a doctor. But that does not mean these medications are free of health risks, pharmacists advise.

“Like prescription drugs, over-the-counter products can cause side effects or bad reactions—for instance, if you take them in the wrong way or mix them with certain other medicines, said Ryan Greenley, pharmacy manager for Aspirus. “That’s why you need to be careful when it comes to over-the-counter medicines too.”

While October is National Talk About Prescriptions Month, Greenley offers the following tips to help people stay safe:

1. Read the label. This is a crucial first step. For instance, find out if the medicine will treat your symptoms, who should not take it and how to use it.

2. Take the medicine exactly as directed. Check with a pharmacist or your doctor if you have questions about how to use an OTC drug.

3. Keep your doctor informed. Your doctor needs to know about every product you take, including OTC drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

“You can share your list of medicines and supplements at your next doctor visit. But if you also take a prescription medicine, it is a good idea to check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying an over-the-counter medicine,” Greenley said. “Make sure it will not interfere with your prescription medicine or cause a side effect.”

4. Be careful when taking more than one drug. Some OTC drugs (like cold medicines and pain relievers) may contain the same active ingredients. If you take more than one medicine for different problems, you could end up taking too much of an active ingredient.

Solution: Read the ingredients list and compare the active ingredients in each medicine.

5. Don’t use a spoon to take the medicine. Use the cup or other dosing device that came with the medicine.

For more information about medication safety, watch this video on how to keep medications away from kids.

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