Everything You Need to Know about Over-the-Counter Drugs


Over-the-Counter (OTC) drugs are used to treat a variety of conditions, from headaches to stomach aches. OTC medications are quite popular because they do not require a prescription from a doctor before purchasing them.

Since these drugs have the potential of causing life-threatening reactions or even death, it is important that you know how to use them and the side effects they come with. These and more will be covered in this article.

Types of OTC Drugs

The most common types of OTC drugs include:

1. Cough/Cold Drugs

Cough and cold medications contain suppressants such as antitussive dextromethorphan (DXM) that you can use to treat cold and flu symptoms as well as allergies. 

If you take DXM in large amounts at a regular interval, some of the side effects you may notice include: nausea, profuse sweating, lethargy, slurred speech, and panic attacks.

2. Stimulants

Stimulant is another drug you can get over-the-counter. Diet pills, caffeine pills, decongestants, and energy drinks are classified as stimulants.

Abusing these medications can cause anxiety, gastrointestinal issues, dehydration, hallucinations, seizures and depression.

3. Pain Relievers

As the name implies, pain relievers are OTC drugs used to relieve pain. The thing with pain relievers is that it’s quite tricky to know when you are abusing them since you take them when are in pains. 

To be on the safe side, do not go for pain relievers containing acetaminophen or those labelled as “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications” because they can cause cardiovascular and kidney complications.

What is the Difference between OTC and Prescription Drugs?

Understanding the difference between prescription and OTC medications will help you make informed decisions regarding their use. 

An OTC drug is a product marketed for use by a consumer without the intervention of a healthcare professional. On the other hand, prescription drugs are products approved for marketing by a country’s health regulatory authority and can only be obtained with a prescription from a healthcare professional.

Bear in mind that a drug classified as an OTC drug in a country can be available to a consumer only based on a prescription by a medical expert in another country.

Dangers of OTC Drugs

Some of the risks associated with OTC drugs include:

1. Side Effects

Side effects are effects that drugs have on your body that don’t help your symptoms. Most side effects are unpleasant. A few examples are nausea, dizziness, or bleeding in your digestive tract. They may worsen your health condition if not properly addressed.

2. Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions are different from side effects. While everyone is susceptible to the side effects of a drug, very few people are allergic to certain medicines.

Signs of allergic reactions include itching, rash, hives, and breathing problems. You can consult with a HealthConnect 247 doctor if you are having an allergic reaction from a drug.

3. Drug-drug Interactions

The human body processes every medicine differently. When you take two different drugs together, they interact with each other.

It happens whether they are prescription or OTC medicines. It can increase the chance that you will have side effects from medicines you are taking. 

4. Drug Addiction

OTC drug abuse has increased in recent years, especially among youths. Many people will abuse OTC drugs to self-medicate, which may lead to more complications including death.


One of the reasons people take OTC drugs is because they want to avoid the stress and cost of going to a hospital before they can get medication for their migraine or mental breakdown. Unfortunately, they may come down with the side effects of these drugs or even die from overdose or wrong drug interaction.

To put an end to the avoidable deaths that result from the misuse of OTC drugs, HealthConnect 24×7 gives you 24/7 access to highly trained, licensed doctors and psychologists. Instead of gambling with your health by taking a drug that you don’t understand how it works or the side effects, you can call 08000HEALTH (08000432584) toll-free from any convenient location to get sound medical advice about the drug to take for your health condition.

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