Be Smart: Making the Right Choice in OTC Medications

Picking out the right OTC medicine to provide that on-the-spot symptom remedy can be tricky. That’s why it pays to have advanced knowledge when choosing your medication.

There would be times when a licensed medical practitioner is nowhere to be found, and you can’t get a prescription on the go. There would also be times when you do not have the convenience of going to the nearest clinic, having an overall checkup, and asking for medication for fast relief for any instantaneous aches or pains you’re feeling. That is where OTC, over-the-counter medicines, and your friendly neighborhood local pharmacist come to the rescue. Dr. Patrick Ojo’s book Pharmacy in Bondage discusses the critical role pharmacists and the pharmacy field play in the medical industry. Pharmacists are stepping in to advise drugs or medicines that can be purchased without needing a prescription. And, they see to it that their patients are taking the suitable medication for their condition and are appropriately advised on the correct intake of these. 

Of course, buyers still need to be vigilant in making the right and smart choice when purchasing OTC medications. 

How to select the right drug choice

Choosing the right medication for that instant relief can sometimes be a confusing process and even, at times, a bit intimidating. If you need to make that rush decision because your pain is increasing to the point of becoming intolerable, you should have at the very least the basic knowledge of which medication to use for which ailment. Below are some steps to help you prepare in case of an emergency and you need to buy OTC medicines. 

Know what you’re feeling

Be mindful of what you are feeling. If you are aching or in pain, identify which part of your body the pain is coming from. Is it joint pain? A headache? A sinusitis pain? Identify what you have done or ate previously on that day that could trigger such ailments. If you’re sneezing really bad, what might have led you to sneeze? Did you go through a dusty road or enter a dirty room? If your skin suddenly breaks into a rash, what have you eaten that day, or what have you put on that could cause the reaction? It’s best to know the answers to these questions to help you and your pharmacist narrow down the choices of OTC medicines you can take. 

Your physical attributes and existing medical conditions matter

Physical attributes here refer to height, weight, sex, and age. These should be considered when selecting the correct dosage for medication. All the more so when it comes to pre-existing medical conditions. You need to provide this information to your pharmacist so that they can advise on the proper medication, the right drugs that are safe and effective for the corresponding BMI (body mass index) and safe for the kind of pre-existing conditions that you have. 

Avoid combining OTC drugs

Avoid buying double agent, or combination, drugs and go for single-agent products. Since the purpose of OTC drugs is to self-treat and allow effective self-management of certain health conditions, it’s best to stick with single-agent medications if you’re without a doctor’s evaluation and prescription to avoid any risk of overdose. Identify which symptoms you need to treat and which medication is suitable for that symptom. For instance, if you’re sneezing or having a runny nose, go for antihistamines. If you have a fever or a headache, ibuprofen, paracetamol, Tylenol, or aspirin is the OTC drug of choice.

Read OTC label warnings carefully

Just like any other consumer product, always read the warning labels, those parts that indicate the drug interaction and contraindication. OTC medicines are generally safe, but some ingredients in the drug might cause an adverse effect on you or trigger an allergic reaction. Drug labels are very crucial. This is where you’ll find dosing instructions, any warning of side effects, and drug storage instructions.  

If there’s any doubt or hesitancy when choosing the right OTC medicine, approach your pharmacist. They’re equipped with the knowledge and experience to help you ensure that the medicine you take is suitable and effective for you. And pharmacists are our partners when it comes to being vigilant in making the smart choice when buying medications.

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