But many of us don’t know how these OTC drugs can be harmful too.
“Over The Counter” (OTC) drugs are the drug you can get without prescription at chemist or drugstore. Basically, OTC drugs are safe to use and which are intended to treat short-term illnesses. The reason people prefer OTC drugs are- easy to understand it’s mode of action, readily available at groceries or pharmacies, less expensive than going to the doctor and paying his checkup fees plus less costly than prescribed medication. That’s all to the good if OTC drugs are used correctly for a particular condition and in proper dosage and for no longer than the recommended time. Over the counter(OTC) drugs are most often used to treat ailments like heartburn, headaches and other pains, fever, cold and cough. As per FDA (Food Drug Administration) till date, there are more than 300,000 Over-The-Counter drugs on the market. This number will continue to grow if more prescription drug moves to OTC lists.
In some cases, even if OTC are taken correctly, there can be some problems because patients with the certain health condition are needed to be aware of it’s side effects, drug-drug reactions, drug-food reactions. For example, people with heart disease or hypertension people are warned not to take aspirin without doctor’s permission.
A study of 500 people carried at Northwestern University in Chicago by Dr, Micheal Wolf and published in 2012 for “Risk of unintentional overdose with the non-prescription acetaminophen products” which revealed OTC medication containing acetaminophen could lead to acute liver failure. The potential for side effects and adverse events due to unintentional misuse of these OTC products is substantial, particularly among heavy users of acetaminophen and those with limited literacy.
If you or anyone you know have taken OTC with incorrect dosage or unintentional overdose, here are the symptoms which need immediate attention
Any kind of sudden change in your body after taking medications, you should see your doctor and find out manifestations of your symptoms.
How OTC drugs are harmful
Another of these OTC’s is Dramamine, the popular name brand for motion sickness pill. If abused, Dramamine side effects may include hallucinations, restlessness, blurred vision, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat. Side effects other than those listed here may also occur.
Diet pills sold over the counter carry their own risks when abused; the negative side effects often include heart palpitations. In some cases, individuals become addicted to OTC diet pills within weeks of the first dose.
Other OTC medications of cough suppressant and cold medicines containing dextromethorphan(DXM) can be safe and effective when taken as recommended, but they can also be abused and can lead to serious adverse health consequences. Some of it’s side effects include double or blurred vision, impaired physical coordination, rapid heartbeat, drowsiness, numbness, and disorientation. Similarly, cold medicines containing active ingredients like Pseudoephedrine which is a stimulant. Abuse of this medication can cause you hallucinations and intense ‘body high’.
Scenarios for adverse reaction of OTC drugs
Older adults often use many medications at the same time, including prescriptions and OTC medicines. Their body process medicines differently than younger adults. There might be chances of adverse reaction between drugs or between drug and food.
Duplication of drugs leads to overdose
Food may alter how your body processes medications. Medicines taken by orally must be absorbed through the lining of the stomach or small intestine. But at the same time nutrients from food, you eat also needs to be absorbed through the lining of the stomach. If you take medicine with the food when it’s not recommended, a possible interaction is that your body might not be able to absorb the medicine as it should.
Similarly, abusers of OTC medications, who mix alcohol with it, can put users at risk for internal bleedings, heart problems, and difficulties in breathing.
List Of Harmful OTC drugs
Not Only Acetaminophen but there are many other OTC drugs with its improper use or overdosage it will be harmful.
11. Diethyl ether
People have committed suicide by overdosing on certain OTC drugs. People who rely on OTC medications often fail to read instructions and warnings on the labels and cartons.
- Studies have shown that 15% of young adults in high school admitted that within a year they had abused some sort of over the counter drugs at least once.
- Severe harmful effects of OTC medications include Brain damage, seizure, ruptured blood vessels, stroke, coma or even death.
It is important to take medicine correctly and be careful when giving them to children. Especially parents with teenagers should be aware of the potential for abuse of these medications and side effects of these OTC’s when taken in large quantities, which should signal concerns and the possible need for intervention and treatments. When you start a new medication either it may be prescription or OTC, make sure you understand how to take it correctly. Every allopathic drug has it’s pros and cons after it exceeds optimal dose. If any confusion arises please ask your primary care or pharmacies regarding usage of medication correctly.