OTC medication safety tips

HealthBeat

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Many of us have a medicine cabinet containing over-the-counter medications for times when seeing a doctor isn’t necessary.

While these medications can be helpful in many situations, experts say it’s important to pay attention to the labels.

Marge Martens is very familiar with over-the-counter medications. She takes pain reliever for arthritis.

“I take it twice a day so I take, two in the morning and two at night,” Martens said.

She always reads the label before using anything to avoid overdosing or side effects.

Kyle Heer chief pharmacist at Lewis Drug says reading the label is crucial, especially if you’re taking a multi-symptom medication.

“One of the biggest things we have to watch for is actually looking at what active ingredients are in the product that you’re taking,” Heer said.

He says acetaminophen is one of the biggest culprits, as people sometimes end up doubling up on Tylenol by accident when trying to treat symptoms.

“People just get confused not knowing that that is actually Tylenol and that it’s actually similar to another product which they’re already taking too,” Heer said.

And that confusion can lead to serious problems down the road.

“Tylenol toxicity is actually a pretty serious overdose that we have to watch for, especially in kids and those who are lower weight. So that’s one that can actually affect your liver, and cause long term damage as well too,” Heer said.

Something else you’ll want to pay attention to when it comes to over the counter medications is the expiration date.

“I just noticed that this last weekend because I was going to use some eye drops for allergy and it had 2017 on it and I’m like, pretty sure it’s probably not so potent anymore,” Martens said.

Martens threw out the old eye drops, and Heer says that was the right move.

“You may go 6 months, a year without having to take that over the counter product. You go to your counter and look to see what you have and you see the first thing that has the indication you’re looking for and you take it. Might be a year or 2 years old at that point. You want to make sure that you have something that’s both safe and effective,” Heer said.

Heer says if you have questions or concerns about your medications, calling a pharmacist can help prevent any medication issues.

Heer says OTC medications can also interact with prescription medications– and suggests having a conversation with your pharmacist or doctor before taking new medications.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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