The term “over-the-counter” (OTC) medication refers to medications that do not require a prescription. These nonprescription medications are often used for coughs, colds, fevers, aches and pains. Because these medications are easy to obtain, it can also become easy to be more casual with their use. It is important that seniors—and others, remember that OTCs are also serious medications. Many of today’s OTC medications were once available only by prescription.
Safety tips for taking over-the-counter medications
- Read the label. Be aware of the ingredients, directions for use and any warnings.Take the recommended dose stated on the label.
- Consult your physician or your pharmacist before taking a nonprescription (OTC) medication along with a prescription medication.
- Consult your physician or your pharmacist before taking more than one OTC medication in combination with another OTC medication. Many of these medications have some of the same ingredients and you will be taking more than the recommended amount which can lead to health problems.
- Maintain a record of all of the OTC medications, prescription medications, dietary supplements, herbal drugs and vitamins that you take—even occasional medications. Always share this list with your physician and other healthcare providers.
- Ask questions. If you are not sure about how to select or use an OTC medication, then consult your physician or pharmacist.
To prevent drug interactions:
- Do not use alcohol while taking OTC allergy medications, cough and cold products, or sleep aids. The active ingredients dextromethorphan or an antihistamine combined with alcohol can increase drowsiness.
- Consult your physician or pharmacist regarding the use of OTC sleep aids if you are already taking prescribed sedatives or tranquilizers.
- If you are taking a prescription blood thinner (anticoagulant), have diabetes, or suffer with gout, consult your physician before taking any OTC medications that contain aspirin.
Over-the-counter medications are safe to use when taken as directed. Always take the time to read the Drug Facts label, follow the directions every time, and don’t take more than the recommended amount.
Please visit http://www.homehealthmedical.com/c/Patient-Aids/Medication-Management/ to learn more about medication management safety products, such as pill boxes, splitters and monthly organizers, available through HomeHealthMedical.com.
Senior care management services are available through Community Touchpoint. A senior care manager is a valuable resource to help family members and long-distance caregivers navigate the many aspects of caring for an aging adult. Please call 317-621-4664 or 877-621-4660 (toll-free) or visit our website at eCommunity.com/seniorcare.