(HealthyResearch.com) – You don’t need a doctor for every ache or ailment, which is why the average household doles out $338 per year on over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Annually, these medications help nearly 60 million people treat minor medical issues at home, but OTC medications still carry some risks. Whether you’re tackling a migraine or alleviating low back pain, protect your health by avoiding these dangerous combinations.
Go Easy on NSAIDs
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the go-to treatment for many folks seeking pain relief. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and Aleve. When symptoms strike, some people combine OTC remedies with prescription drugs, but this can trigger some major side effects. Doubling up on pain pills, prescription or otherwise, can damage your liver or kidneys, and it may also wreak havoc on your digestive system.
Ask your doctor whether it’s safe to combine multiple pain relief meds. If you get the green light to double dip your NSAIDs, find out how far apart you should space dosages to decrease the chance of complications.
Don’t Mix Tylenol and Cold Meds
Tylenol is a staple in many medicine cabinets, but don’t pop a pill along with Nyquil or similar OTC meds. Many cold medications already contain acetaminophen, which is the generic name for Tylenol.
Adults shouldn’t ingest more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen per day, and it’s easy to unintentionally exceed that amount if you’re combining meds. Taking more than 7,000 mg per day may land you in the hospital for a liver transplant, so track your doses carefully.
Remember Cough Meds and St. John’s Wort Are a No-Go
People often praise the mood-boosting properties of St. John’s Wort, a popular OTC supplement that increases serotonin. Put this remedy on hold if you’re hacking to the point where you need cough meds, though. Many OTC cough suppressants also stimulate serotonin production, so you can get sick if you combine them with this herbal remedy. You should also avoid taking St. John’s Wort with numerous prescription drugs, including birth control, psychiatric medications, and blood thinners like Warfarin.
Stay Regular by Avoiding a Calcium and Imodium Duo
Anti-diarrheal medication, such as Imodium, literally helps slow the flow, but you don’t want to slow it too much. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what might happen if you take calcium supplements while you’re also on diarrhea-stopping meds. Calcium supplements are notorious for causing constipation, which can be a problem if you’re already taming overactive bowels with something like Imodium.
Avoid Taking OTC Allergy and Motion Sickness Meds
Many allergy meds are antihistamines, which means they reduce the amount of symptom-triggering substances in your body. Dramamine and similar motion sickness meds also reduce histamine, which isn’t good if you’re already blocking it with allergy meds. Combining the two can lead to complications, which range from mild irritations like dry mouth and flushing to bigger issues like irregular heartbeat and memory problems. Try a first-generation antihistamine if you need help with allergies and motion sickness at the same time.
OTC meds work miracles when taken correctly, but watch out for dangerous interactions like the ones referred to above. Talk to a pharmacist before combining any meds, whether they’re from your local drugstore or prescribed by a doctor, so you can treat your medical concerns without developing additional problems.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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