Most people think of over-the-counter medications as safe. After all, these types of drugs are available without a prescription, which means that they must be harmless, right? Not necessarily.

Even over-the-counter medications can pose serious risks if not taken properly. Misusing OTC drugs is one of the most common ways for people to inadvertently harm themselves.

Understanding how these medicines can prove fatal and what precautions you need to take in order to avoid danger is essential for anyone who wants to use OTC medications safely and responsibly.

Understanding the risks of OTC drugs

OTC drugs are designed to treat minor conditions and ailments. But any time you take a medication you put your health at risk. Before deciding to use an OTC drug, you should always weigh the risks against the potential benefits. Factors that increase the risk of taking OTC drugs include:

Know your medication

Before you take an OTC drug, be sure you know exactly which one you are taking and its recommended dosage. First, make sure that you are taking the correct drug for your condition. Many types of drugs are available under several different brand names and/or in different forms (e.g., liquid, tablet, capsule).

Make sure you understand the active ingredients in the medication you are taking. If you are unsure of the name of the drug you need or how much to take, speak with a pharmacist.

Pharmacists are able to help you identify the drug(s) that best suits your needs, and they can also provide you with advice regarding proper dosage and potential side effects.

Storage and handling

Always store your OTC drugs in a secure place where others cannot get to them. If you have young children in your home, you need to take special precautions to make sure they can’t access medications. Keep all medications out of reach, and make sure that they are stored in child-proof containers.

When taking OTC drugs, you should adhere to the instructions regarding timing and dosage carefully. You should also follow the instructions regarding how to take the medication properly. If you have any questions or are unsure about anything, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for advice.

Identifying the most dangerous OTC drugs

Some OTC drugs are more dangerous than others. To make sure you don’t put yourself at risk, you should familiarize yourself with the most potentially fatal OTC drugs. The drug categories with the highest potential for harm include:

These drugs can cause serious side effects, and some can even be fatal when misused. If you are considering taking any of these drugs, you need to be absolutely certain that the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

Summing up

Taking OTC drugs is generally safe as long as you know what you are taking, have a basic understanding of how they work, and follow the dosage instructions carefully. When misused, OTC medications can cause serious health issues and even death.

The most dangerous OTC drugs include allergy medications, anti-diarrheal medications, antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, sleep aids, and other drugs. Before taking any OTC drug, be sure that you fully understand how it works, and weigh the potential risks against the benefits.

The Team

The team is composed of doctors and few students in their final year of medicine who have decided to popularize and share their knowledge.