Over-the-counter drugs (OTC) are non-prescription medications. This means they do not require a prescription from your doctor. They are readily available for almost every ailment. The most important thing is to learn how to take OTC medications safely, avoid potential interactions or side effects; as well as how to get maximum benefits from them.

Getting the most from OTC drugs

You can always buy OTC drugs from your local drug store or grocery. You can use them to relieve pain, nausea, constipation, or treating symptoms of the flu or cold. However, if there is something you don’t understand about a particular drug, ask your pharmacist or doctor for clarification. Additionally, if you are taking more than one drug, consult your doctor in order to find out if the drugs can interact with each other.

How to choose the most suitable over-the-counter drug for your condition

Over-the-counter-drug– Read the drug facts label keenly in order to find out the types of symptoms it is meant to treat.

– Always buy a drug that will treat your particular symptoms.

– Establish whether the drug is associated with any side effects, especially if you have certain health conditions such as high blood sugar or asthma.

– If you have any questions, ask your pharmacist or family doctor.

Do and don’ts of taking OTC drugs

-Ensure that you read the drug facts label carefully.

-Take your medications exactly as the drug label or your doctor directs you.

-Use the correct device to measure your medication, for instance, a spoon, syringe, or cup provided for that purpose,

-Let your doctor have a list of all the OTC drugs you are currently taking.

-Avoid taking OTC drugs together with your prescription drugs unless your doctor tells you to do so.

-Avoid using OTC medications if they are expired.

-Don’t crush, chew, or break capsules or tablets unless your doctor tells you to do so. This is because some medications do not work properly if they are not swallowed whole.

-Keep your drugs where children cannot reach them.

-If you are tasking a particular OTC drug and you are not getting better, inform your doctor so that he or she can establish the reason why the drug is not working.

Abusing OTC drugs

Some OTC drugs have psychoactive properties (mind altering properties) and for this reason they are abused by some people. This happens because some people buy and use them for other purposes other than what they are intended for. Others take larger amounts than what the doctor has recommended. Some of the most abused classes of prescription drugs are opioid pain relievers, including Oxycontin or Vicodin, as well as stimulants for treating ADHD, such as Ritalin, Concerta and Anderall. Others include OTC drugs for relieving depression, such as Valium or Xanax. However, most people abuse OTC drugs that are meant to treat coughs and colds, because they contain dextromethorphan.

If OTC drugs are abused, they can cause addiction, thus leading to adverse health effects. This is especially so when they are taken together with alcohol or other drugs.