Stay healthy by self-medicating consciously
May 26, 2023

Most of us self-medicate, especially when we have minor ailments, like a cold or indigestion, but do you know what reaction these “Over the Counter” medications may cause with the chronic medicines we are on?

For example, antacids may decrease the absorption of some cardiovascular medication by up to 90%, and aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding if one uses an anti-coagulant such as Warfarin.

Even grapefruit juice can cause problems with some statin drugs to lower cholesterol, such as Zocor (simvastatin) and Lipitor (atorvastatin).

Here are some tips for smart OTC medicine use:

1) Ask your pharmacist or doctor, as sometimes one medication can interfere with the other medication’s effectiveness.

2) Read the label. This will help you select the right product for your symptoms. Also, it has important dosing instructions and warnings.

3) Choose a medicine that treats only the symptoms you have. Some products are for one symptom (i.e., cough medicine). Some are for multiple symptoms (i.e., cold medications that treat headache, stuffy nose, and cough). “More” doesn’t necessarily mean better.

4) Take the medicine EXACTLY as stated on the label. Taking too much can be harmful. Only take the recommended amount at the intervals displayed on the label.

5) Use caution when taking more than one OTC drug. Many OTC medicines contain the same active ingredients. For example, the pain reliever you take for a backache may also be in cold medication. As a result, you may be getting more than is recommended. Compare ingredients!

6) Keep a list of all the OTC medicines, prescription drugs, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Include the active ingredients and reason for taking each. Please share it with your healthcare providers so they can check for interactions or side effects. Give a loved one a copy in case of an emergency.

7) Don’t use expired medicines. Dispose of all expired drugs safely. Please don’t throw them away where children or pets may find them.


Ref: WebMD and BeMedWise.