How to Choose the Right Over the Counter Drugs

When you start to experience pain within your body, it’s normal to try a number of home remedies to feel better, like ice, rest, or a hot bath. But, what happens when those at-home solutions don’t work?

Well, the next step for most people is over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication. There are a considerable number of over-the-counter or OTC pain medications available on the market today. When looking through the pain relief aisle at your local grocery store or pharmacy, it may be easy to become overwhelmed. Here’s how to ensure you are choosing the right pain medication:

Learn About Over The Counter Drug Options

Overall, the best thing a person can do when choosing an over-the-counter pain medication is to do ample research beforehand. Here are a few basics about over-the-counter drugs:

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in charge of deciding which drugs are available only by prescription and which are able to be purchased over the counter. Prescription medications are administered and supervised by doctors, whereas over-the-counter medications can be taken without a doctor’s supervision.
  • The FDA also has the authority to decide if medications previously only available by prescriptions should instead be available over the counter. In fact, there are hundreds of medications and medical ingredients available over the counter today that were only available by prescription in years prior. The prescription-to-OTC trend has allowed individuals to take a more active involvement in their own health care.

Understand Your Pain

Before deciding which pain medications to consider, you must identify the pain you are experiencing, and whether or not the pain warrants a doctor’s visit.

If you are experiencing pain that is unfamiliar to your or pain you have not self-treated before, it is best to visit a doctor before trying to treat the pain yourself. While pain medications are available over the counter, there will still be times where a visit to a doctor is necessary.

Speak with Your Pharmacist

If you are feeling unsure about which medication will best treat your pain, consider asking a pharmacist about specific products you are considering. While they cannot give medical advice or diagnose illnesses, pharmacists can give you more insight into the medication you are thinking of taking and compare that to other products available.

Read All Instructions and Dosages

The most important thing to do when choosing an over-the-counter medication is to read the label completely and thoroughly. Make sure you understand everything that is printed on the label as well as the instructions for taking the medication and dosage instructions before you leave the pharmacy.

Don’t be afraid to ask pharmacists questions before you leave. They want to help you find the right medicine.

Make sure that you understand the potential side effects of the medication, especially when it comes to operating motor vehicles or performing other potentially dangerous tasks. If you experience severe side effects, go to the doctor or hospital promptly, do not wait until symptoms worsen.

Also, make sure to scan the ingredients of the medication to determine if you are allergic to any components of the drug. A little prior research can save you considerable pain later.

Know What Type of Pain You Want To Treat

Pain medications are not all the same. Different medications are designed to treat different types of pain. For instance, Ibuprofen helps dental and joint pain. Aspirin helps treat pain associated with inflammation. Acetaminophen treats headaches and fevers. If you are unsure which pain you are trying to treat, you may not choose the best medication available.

Be Aware of Drug Interactions

It is important to be aware of how any over-the-counter medication you are taking will interact with your current prescription medication. If you are taking any prescriptions, it is best to ask a doctor before taking any medication over the counter, as the two can interact and cause negative or dangerous side effects. It is also important to understand how alcohol will interact with any over-the-counter medications you decide to use.

In addition, it’s also a good idea to stay away from combo-meds (medications that are designed to relieve a multitude of symptoms simultaneously). This is because taking them increases your chance of an overdose if you also decide to take a single-action medication such as acetaminophen or aspirin.

If you believe you have a substance abuse problem, OTC drug rehab options are available to you to help you address problems with over-the-counter medications.

Choosing the right type of pain medication can seem intimidating. There are a number of things to keep in mind while you are searching. But, by doing your research and asking questions, determining which type of medication is best for you can be an easier process.

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