Introduction

The English physician and educator Peter Mere Latham (1789 – 1875) once stated, “Poisons and medicines are often times the same substance given with different intents.” Though the intent is the same in our discussion, over-the-counter medications can have poisonous effects if misused and/or misunderstood of what adverse effects they may have on different individuals.

The misuse of over-the-counter medications has most recently become more widespread with much more medical information at consumers fingertips via the Internet, magazines, and television. And while it is good that consumers are taking a proactive approach to their health, self-medicating with over-the-counter medications is a responsibility that should be taken seriously.  

During our research into this topic of consumer misuse of over-the-counter medications, we found that the deception of safety regarding these medications, to consumers, is not only due to inadequate warning labels and product information, but also their mass availability. This availability in turn creates a false sense of security on the part of the consumer. Individually or combined these issues have the potential to cause harm, as more than 200 million people in the United States and roughly 50% of the elderly population regularly take some kind of over-the-counter medication. In this blog, we will explore some of the dangers and adverse effects that over-the-counter medications have on idividuals taking and/or misusing them. As more and more people turn to over-the-counter medications to relieve their ailments, both consumers and people in the health care field need to be aware of the potential risks involved and further educate themselves on what to do if adverse reactions occur.

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