Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are drugs you can buy without a prescription. Some OTC medicines relieve aches, pains, and itches. Some prevent or cure diseases, like tooth decay and athlete's foot. Others help manage recurring problems, like migraines and allergies.
In different countries, the National Food and Drug Administration Agency decides whether a medicine is safe and effective enough to sell over-the-counter (OTC). This allows you to take a more active role in your health care. But you also need to be careful to avoid mistakes. Make sure to follow the instructions on the drug label. If you don't understand the instructions, ask your pharmacist.
Also keep in mind that that there are still risks to taking OTC medicines:
- The medicine you are taking could interact with other medicines, supplements, foods, or drinks
- Some medicines are not right for people with certain medical conditions. For example, people with high blood pressure should not take certain decongestants.
- Some people are allergic to certain medicines
- Many medicines are not safe during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, check with your health care provider before taking any medicine.
- Be careful when giving medicines to children. Make sure that you give your child the correct dose. If you are giving your child a liquid medicine, don't use a kitchen spoon. Instead use a measuring spoon or a dosing cup marked in teaspoons.
If you have been taking an OTC medicine but your symptoms don't go away, contact your pharmacist or doctor. You should not take OTC medicines longer or in higher doses than the label recommends.
What Conditions Can Be Treated Using (OTC) Over-the-Counter Medicine?
- This list is not exclusive
- minor aches and pains,
- cold symptoms,
- sore throat, and
- OTC medications have brand names as well as generic and store brand names (similar to prescription medications). Generic, store, and brand names contain the same active ingredients and are identical in their action on the body if the concentration of the active ingredients are the same.
- Because some OTC pills and liquids contain multiple medications, it is important to read the fine print on the label to know exactly what ingredients are in the product.
Sources: medlineplus, emedicinehealth