by Kendra Syphers
Four out of five American adults commonly take over the counter medications to relieve everyday pains, but do we really know the benefits and dangers of these medications?
According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are more than 300,000 over-the-counter drug products on the market, and that number is growing.
“Last year, Americans spent about $44 billion on O.T.C. drugs which, the industry claims, saved the health care system about $102 billion in doctor visits, diagnostic tests and prescription medications,” according to the New York Times.
One in five adults who take these medicines admit to taking more than the recommended dose on the bottle or using it too frequently then they should. Excessive amounts of any of these pills can lead to major health defects such as severe liver damage. The most common overdoses are found with acetaminophen which is an ingredient most commonly found in O.T.C products such as Tylenol and Advil.
“I admit to taking over the recommended dose on the bottle, especially with Tylenol because I feel like the dose they recommend is way too small for my size,” said John Mullin, a student at Manchester Community College, class of 2018.
According to the Times, “A study of 500 people published in 2012 in The Journal of General Internal Medicine revealed that 24 percent would unwittingly exceed the safe limit of 4,000 milligrams of acetaminophen over a 24-hour period when taking a single product containing the drug.”
Just because a drug is sold over the counter does not mean it’s harmless. Sleeping pills have also been proved to have major health problems if not used in moderation. Over time the drug becomes less and less effective causing consumers to up their dosage, which can lead to daytime sleepiness, dizziness and a thickening of bronchial secretions.
People who have underlying health problems and are already taking one or more prescription drugs should consult with their doctor before taking any over the counter medications. A mix of both prescription and over the counter drugs can result in adverse affects.
Take sensible precautions when using OTC medications and always read the bottle before popping any pills.