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Over-the-Counter Drugs

Many people complicate their health with the misuse of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. When a medication does not require your doctor’s prescription, don’t assume that it is automatically safe.

Over-the-counter-drugs include health supplements of all kinds. A person’s physical health, the other drugs being taken, the effect of any drug with alcohol, the quantity of the drug and the weight and age of the user are all complicating factors.

Common risks and scenarios of OTC use:

  • A woman with an eating disorder may misuse drugs that relieve constipation, or dangerously use diet pills or diuretics.
  • A person drinks alcohol and takes an OTC drug that can cause drowsiness but gets in the car and has an accident.
  • Aspirin as a blood thinner: A person is on a prescription blood thinner like Warfarin and takes aspirin on top of that. Because both are blood thinners, this could be dangerous.
  • Aspirin is certainly not without risks of its own. Overuse can cause internal bleeding. Overuse of other OTC pain medications may cause gastrointestinal distress as well.
  • If a person drinks three or more alcoholic drinks per day, the use of painkillers such as acetaminophen can cause serious liver problems.
  • Overdependence on constipation-relieving drugs can cause the cycle to continue.
  • Some medications now require a purchaser’s signature in many states. Ingredients of medications such as Sudafed include ephedrine, used in home meth labs.
  • OTC drugs have side effects and present risk to pregnant women and people with high blood pressure.
  • New and dangerous synthetic stimulants, in the form of incense sticks or “bath salts” may be obtained without penalty in some states and have been shown to be life-threatening.
  •  “Pro-hormones,” or “legal steroids” are very similar to anabolic steroids, and these drugs may have long-term effects. DHEA started the boom with body builders, as it stimulates the production of testosterone in the body. Androstene is another pro-hormone that has gained popularity and claims body mass-building properties.
  • Some vitamins can be toxic or poisonous when taken in larger doses than recommended, including Vitamin A.
  • A person who is taking prescription meds may think that taking an OTC can boost the effect. This is not a safe practice.

Do you know what you are taking?

  • Share with your doctor every medication you are taking, including vitamins, supplements and prescription meds.
  • Energy boosters, whether in pill or liquid form, have shown to increase heart rate and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). These are being revealed as dangerous drugs.
  • Health supplements may contain unregulated substances that could interfere with other medications or be harmful to your health. Supplement manufacturers are not required to demonstrate the real efficacy of their insinuated claims, or the safety of their products. Some promises associated with supplements are false.

If you are experiencing health problems, don’t simply self-treat and self-diagnose. See your doctor.