Commonly Misused Over-the-Counter Drugs

When you browse the over-the-counter (OTC) medicine aisle of a store such as Wal-Mart or Walgreens, you may be overwhelmed at the variety of available drug products used to treat similar conditions.  These drugs do not require a prescription to purchase.  In some cases, consumers will buy two different OTC drugs thinking that each has different effect.  But in reality, these two products that are promoted to be used for different conditions may contain the exact same ingredients. Hence, the misuse or abuse of OTC drugs. 

OTC drugs are not perfectly safe.  Similar to prescription drugs, OTC drugs can have negative side effects, including some that can severely damage your overall health.

Here are some of the most commonly misused OTC drugs, that you may even use use, possibly on a daily basis, that you can easily find in a drug store or supermarket:

     1.  Pain relievers –  medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin)

     2.  Cough and Cold medications  –  found in any cold medicine with “DM” or “Tuss” in the title or name such as Robitussin, Nyquil, Vicks Formula 44, and Cough/Cold tablets contain a chemical DXM (Dextromethorphan).

     3.  Sleep aids

     4.  Diet pills

A common assumption made by many, is the belief that if 2 or 4 Tylenol do not relieve their symptoms, taking more might work.  The consequence can be acetaminophen toxicity, which is one of the most common causes of acute liver failure.

More on DXM:

Dextromethorphanis the active ingredient and cough suppressant found in many OTC cough and cold medications.  When taken in recommended doses, these medications are safe and effective.  It is taken orally.  When consumed in excessive amounts, people can experience the mind-altering effects. These effects include impaired motor function, numbness, nausea/vomiting, and increased heart rate and blood pressure.  On rare occasions, hypoxic brain damage has occurred due to the combination of DXM with decongestant often found in these medications.

 Here is a newsclip from Today’s Show regarding teens using DXM:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rrVY4L2XPg

Please feel free to post your comments below.

Resources:

http://www.medem.com/medlb/article_detaillb.cfm?article_ID=ZZZ5A5UFHZD&sub_cat=0

http://www.teenoverthecounterdrugabuse.com/myths-otc-drug-use.html

http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/prescription.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rrVY4L2XPg

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2 Comments on “Commonly Misused Over-the-Counter Drugs”

  1. Melinda Says:

    For me, concern about my safety is not the first thing that I worry about when looking for an OTC drug to take. But now realizing the possible dangers involved in self-medicating with OTC drugs, I will pay closer attention to the product labels and printed warnings.

  2. Karen Says:

    I have to admit i have sometiems used benadryl and nyquil to get to sleep without knowing how bad that actually is for you. Now that i have studied and read this I can be more aware of taking those drugs the way they were meant to take


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