Convenience drives the market (or shall we say the Food and Drug Administration- FDA) to release certain medications to be over the counter.
Often, I see the misuse of these items bring patients into the clinic with complaints from the side effects. With prescription medications, there is a finite supply given to you.
If you think you need anymore, you would need to call your doctor’s office for a refill.
Need more of an over-the-counter medication? Easy like Sunday morning. Simply pick up another bottle on your next visit to the neighborhood drug store.
Here are the common over-the-counter medication offenders and how you can avoid the pitfalls
1. Afrin (& other decongestant nose sprays)
VERY effective for short term relief of nasal congestion but if used for more than a couple of days or for the wrong reasons, your nasal tissues actually get more swollen (we call that a “rebound congestion”) and you would literally get dependent on the medication.
2. Visine (& other red eye removers)
This eye drop temporarily relieves red eye look of eyes most times, but if used for too long can actually cause the eyes to get more irritated and redder in the long run. If you must use Visine, keep it short and sweet.
3. AZO (& other bladder pain pills)
Azo temporarily relieves bladder pain from infection or irritation but if used for too long can mask the worsening of infection into kidney and or blood infection.
Aspirin is a great pain and fever reducer but if overused can cause stomach issues like bleeding showing up as black tarry stools. Excessive use of aspirin could also cause tinnitus (ringing of the ears).
5. Hydrocortisone (creams and ointments)
Though great at relieving minor itch from rashes, if overused can actually thin out and discolor skin.
Hydrocortisone may also make certain fungal rash or skin issues worse.
6. Neosporin (other antibacterial ointments and sanitizers)
May I let you in on a little secret? These creams are often not needed and can cause an allergic skin reaction on the area of the skin you apply them to.
Over use of “antibacterial” products can increase the overgrowth of strong bacteria and does not kill any viruses, molds, fungus or atypical germs.
Regarding medications (to include prescription, over-the-counter or even herbal), less is better.