facebook pixel 5 Tips for Taking Over-the-Counter Medicine Safely
Site Search
< Blog Home < Healthcare and Insurance Basics

5 Tips for Taking Over-the-Counter Medicine Safely

Over-the-counter medications are easily accessible, but they may have some risks. Here’s what to do before taking an over-the-counter product.

woman buying pills, how to take over the counter meds properly

From pain relievers to cold remedies, you can easily buy over-the-counter (OTC) medicines at many stores—without a prescription from a doctor. But that doesn't mean these medications are free of health risks.

Like prescription drugs, OTC 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. That's why you need to be careful when it comes to OTC medicines. Here are five safety tips:

1. Read the label

This is a crucial first step. For instance, find out if the medicine will treat your symptoms, who shouldn’t take it, and how to use it.

2. Take the medicine exactly as directed

Ask 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. Share your list of medicines and supplements at your next doctor visit. If you also take a prescription medicine, it's a good idea to check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying an OTC medicine. Make sure it will not interfere with your prescription medicine or cause a side effect.

Related: Get Your Medications with Hassle-free Home Delivery  

4. Be careful when taking more than one drug

Some OTC drugs (like cold medicines and pain relievers) may contain the same active ingredients. So, 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

It’s important to measure accurately—use the cup or other dosing device that came with the medicine. When measuring medicine for children, it's helpful to use a medicine dropper or syringe to get the proper dose. Avoid grabbing the nearest kitchen spoon, which can vary in size and result in taking too much or too little.

While you’re here, check out our other articles on healthy living. For more information on our medical and dental plans, selecthealth.org/plans.

Related: OTC Medicines That Are Okay during Pregnancy

References: National Council on Patient Information and Education; U.S. Food and Drug Administration

You May Also Like...

Healthy Living

Winter Is Here, Are You Ready for a Storm?

Winter brings the potential for a winter storm. Here’s how to keep your home and family safe.

Nutrition and Diet

Flourless Pumpkin Bread

This version of pumpkin bread only requires 6 ingredients—it’s made without flour and naturally sweetened with maple syrup.

In the Community

Is Your Organization Keeping Utah Healthy? Apply for Our Award

Each year, we recognize 20 organizations that are making a healthy difference in Utah to help support their missions.

Business

What Playing Football Taught Me about Business

Here’s how my passion for playing football has helped me off the field.

Related Articles

Related Articles

Healthcare and Insurance Basics

How Screenings Can Prevent Cervical Cancer

Here are the steps you can take to prevent cervical cancer.

Healthcare and Insurance Basics

Must-do Self-exams

It’s important to think about health screenings that can alert us to possible health problems. You'll need a doctor for most screening tests and exams, of course. But you can do some checks yourself, often with a doctor's input or recommendation

Healthcare and Insurance Basics

Your Pharmacy Benefits at A Glance

Before you fill a prescription, it can be helpful to review the basics about how your pharmacy coverage works.

Healthcare and Insurance Basics

3 Common Misconceptions about Health Insurance

While it may not be glitzy or exciting, health care coverage is a fundamental topic of adulting. We’ll help you understand the basics and importance of health insurance.

Post Author

SelectHealth Staff