OTC side effects

Congrats to Ian Webster, Ellerslie seems to be a good school, a lot of people from that school seem to be doing well.

Another week, another article, so here goes. We have learnt that expectant mothers have to be careful when making choices in their over-the-counter items in supermarkets and gas stations or even the corner shop.

This is particularly so when they are only three months pregnant. In fact quite a few medicines are not intended to be used in that time period!

Most of our pharmacies are designed with the dispensary at the rear and everything else up front with the cashiers. This arrangement allows for self purchase and speed, when needing a quick fix for that cold or flu, or dengue, which is it again?

Therein lies the problem, we often don’t know what we are suffering from, but remember the nice voice on the radio, helping us to make that “wise” choice.

Most people would know by now that dengue and aspirin-like drugs don’t mix, but for those who don’t, the use of aspirin like drugs such as Advil or Naprosyn and the Cataflams, etc can cause death.

Over-the-counter medicines are medicines you can buy without a prescription from your doctor. OTC medicines are used to treat or prevent health problems, such as allergies, constipation, cold and flu, and nausea.

However, sometimes OTC medicines can cause adverse effects. These adverse effects include side effects, drug-drug interactions, food-drug interactions, and allergic reactions. It is best to be aware or be made aware of the risks so you know how to avoid them.

Because the possible adverse effects differ from one OTC medicine to another, it’s best to carefully read the label of any OTC medicine to know what to expect.

Although OTC medicines are designed to have a low risk of adverse effects when used occasionally and properly by adults who are generally healthy, they can pose greater risks for some people, including very young children, the elderly, and people taking more than one type of medicine. People who have

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the following conditions are also at a higher risk: • Asthma • Bleeding disorders • Blood clotting disorders

• Breathing problems • Diabetes • Enlarged prostate gland • Epilepsy • Glaucoma • Gout • Heart disease • High blood pressure

• Immune system problems • Kidney problems • Liver problems • Parkinson’s disease

• Psychiatric problems • Pregnancy • Thyroid problems When you take any type of medicine, it’s important to be

aware of changes in your body and how you feel. It may be hard to know whether a certain symptom is caused by your illness or by an adverse effect from your medicine. Let your doctor or pharmacist know when the symptom started and if it is different from other symptoms you have had.

Tips to help you avoid adverse effects • Don’t take medicine with alcoholic drinks. • Read the medicine label carefully. • Take the medicine just as your doctor or the drug label

instructs. Don’t take a higher dose of the medicine than the label tells you to. Also, don’t take the medicine more frequently than suggested.

• Don’t take the medicine longer than recommended on the drug label.

• Don’t stir medicine into your food or take capsules apart (unless your pharmacist has suggested). This may change the way the medicine works.

• If you don’t understand something about the medicine, ask your pharmacist about it.

• If you take any prescription medicines, ask a pharmacist before taking an OTC medicine.

• Keep track of any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to OTC medicines in the past. Check drug labels and avoid products that contain the same ingredients. This can help you avoid taking a medicine that may harm you or from taking too much of a certain medicine.

• Make sure you know what ingredients the product contains and understand any warnings or possible adverse effects.

• Don’t mix medicine into hot drinks unless the label tells you to. The heat may keep the medicine from working as it should.

• Remember that even if you didn’t have a reaction to a medicine you took in the past, you could have a reaction when you take it now.

• Don’t take vitamin pills at the same time you take medicine. Vitamins and minerals can cause problems if taken with some medicines.

• Try to limit how often you use OTC medicines. Don’t use them unless you really need them.

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