Four-out-of-five American adults commonly take over-the-counter (or OTC) medications.
Because these meds aren't prescribed, people often aren’t told exactly what they are and what they do to the body. Even worse, some can have potentially disastrous side effects down the road.
We're going to take a look at the 3 biggest misconceptions around these meds, so that we can keep our family - as well as ourselves - safe and healthy.
“One-in-five adults who self-medicate admit to taking more than the recommended dose or using the medication more frequently than the label indicates.” -New York Times
1. Over-the-Counter Just Means "Safe To Use"
Many people are under the misconception that OTC medications are considered safe no matter what. After all, they don’t require a prescription, right? In reality, these medications are typically considered safe when used correctly by healthy adults. However, you have to pay attention to the active ingredients and always avoid mixing different medications.
Often times, multiple medications contain the same ingredients, making it easier to potentially exceed dosage. Mixing medications can cause dire side effects and may even result in hospitalization. Always check with the pharmacist before mixing medications. Don’t forget to ask about potential side effects for specific medications as well.
2. Dosages are Suggestions
Often times, users don't know the medication's recommended the dosage.
"One-in-five adults who self-medicate admit to taking more than the recommended dose or using the medication more frequently than the label indicates." This is a problem because the dosages are there for a reason: to keep you safe. To exceed the dosage can potentially result in overdose. Over-the-counter drugs can cause overdoses just like prescription drugs.
According to the NY Times, overdoses of acetaminophen cause 30,000 hospitalizations annually. Many people who mix medications are unaware that the same drug is in multiple products, and mixing those results in overdose. Taking doses too close together can cause the same effect. To be safe, make sure to only take the recommended dose in the recommended intervals. To exceed this could cause horrible side effects and put your life in danger.
3. Over-the-Counter Medications Can Be Used For Extended Periods of Time
OTC medications should not be used for longer than a few days at most. Most packages outline the recommended amount of time that the drug should be taken for. Many people ignore this guideline and continue to take the medication far beyond the recommended amount of time.
This can cause damage to your body or even your brain. Diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl, has been linked to an increased risk of dementia when used for an extended amount of time. Remember to always consult with the pharmacist if you are unsure of the maximum amount of time a medication can be taken, and to discontinue the medicine and see your doctor if your symptoms do not get better or worsen.
Should I avoid Over-the-Counter Medications?
OTC meds are here to help, and we certainly aren't recommending that you avoid them entirely. However, for common ailments (like a tension headache) they can often be switched out for a healthier, natural alternative.
For a natural remedy to help with headaches and other pain, check out Aculief.
Aculief is a Wearable Device that provides all-natural pain relief. It utilizes your body’s own endorphins to relieve pain, tension and stress.