About Over the Counter Medicine, Medicine Side Effect of OTC Drugs, OTC Drug Side Effects

An over the counter (OTC) drug is any medicine you can buy without a prescription. OTC drugs have been deemed to be generally safe for self treating certain health conditions and symptoms, stuff like:

However, no prescription doesn’t equate to no side effects. A side effect is a response that has nothing to do with symptom relief. And they’re usually unpleasant.

Over the counter drugs primarily fall under these broad categories:

  • antacid
  • laxative
  • pain reliever
  • antihistamine
  • decongestant
  • cough medicine

Antacids are designed to reduce stomach acid that causes minor abdominal pain. This array of over the counter medicine usually causes only minor side effects, including:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • headaches
  • dark stools
  • constipation

Expect short-term side effect that goes away on its own.

Laxatives are used to soften stool in an effort to pass it through your bowel comfortably. OTC bowel moving medicine side effects might involve:

Stimulant laxatives will likely cause side effect abdominal discomfort and faintness. If you have swallowing troubles, then mineral oil should not be your laxative of choice because an accidental lung inhalation can cause aspiration pneumonia.

Pain relievers are OTC products that are made to relieve your headache, fever or muscle aches. Note that non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen are not the same, they work differently.

NSAIDs relieve pain by halting prostaglandin production. Prostaglandins are natural chemicals that triggers pain sensation by irritating nerve endings in your skin, muscles and joints.

The active ingredients in commonly used NSAIDs include:

Acetaminophen blocks your pain sensation in brain and spinal cord. Interestingly, it’s not totally understood how acetaminophen relieves pain and reduces fever.

Side effects of OTC pain relievers are typically minimal for healthy individuals when used occasionally. However, if you have other health issues, then prior clearance from your health care provider is highly recommended.

Side effects of aspirin can cause hives or trigger your asthma. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if taken in very high doses or if you already suffer abnormal liver function.

Long-term use of NSAIDs can cause:

Antihistamines work by blocking the receptors that trigger:

Side effects from antihistamines are rare. Certain antihistamines can make you feel very sleepy and cause mouth and eye dryness.

Decongestants work by narrowing nose lining blood vessels. Less blood flow means less inflammation up your nose. Pseudoephedrine is used in OTC decongestants.

Pseudoephedrine can cause side effect of:

Cough medicine is grouped into antitussives and expectorants. Dextromethorphan is a common antitussive, formulated to suppress your cough. Guaifenesin is the only expectorant used in OTC drugs, believed to make your coughs more productive by thinning your mucus.

Cough medicine side effects that may occur are:

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • upset stomach

Before you take any over the counter medicine, read the label carefully because how a particular drug works and its side effects differ amongst brands of OTC drugs.