Over the Counter Medicines

Many of the medications you can purchase “over the counter” (OTC) are just as strong as those that require a prescription. Additionally, all OTC medications are still medications and have a specific therapeutic benefit. When you are choosing medicine for yourself or a family member, use the tips listed below to make the safest selections.

  • Choose medicines that help relieve your specific symptoms. Select nonprescription medicines that provide relief only for the symptoms you have. Take the time to check the label for the list of conditions the product should be used to treat and for conditions for which the product should not be used. Also check to see if the product should not be used when another health condition is present.

  • Be sure to check the expiration date, follow instructions and inspect the package and the medicine for signs of tampering. 

  • Always store and dispose of medicine out of the sight and reach of children. If you are taking more than one medication, pay particular attention to the active ingredients used in the products to avoid taking too much of a particular ingredient.

  • Check the warnings listed on the label. These will state specific conditions that may make medicines less effective, limitations on product use and possible side effects. Details about foods, beverages and other medicines that cannot be taken with the product also can be found in the warnings section. If you are still unsure about using a nonprescription product after reading its label, contact your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking the medicine.

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