How hard is it to understand OTC Medication Labels? – There is no better time to really learn how to read the drug label and learn the ingredients, than now. Hey, there everyone, and thanks for reading this blog article about OTC medication. Hopefully, you will find a lot of value in this blog article “How hard is it to understand OTC medication labels?”
In this blog article, we will dig into why or if it’s safe for a child the ages of your kids, why the inactive ingredients matter, and how to better organize the cupboard! In some ways, it is the combination of medicines that makes many medical professionals worry the most.
First, let us quickly review what an OTC drug/medication is exactly. OTC stands for Over-the-counter. OTC medicines are drugs you can buy without a prescription. Some of these over-the-counter medicines relieve aches, pains, and itches. Some prevent or cure diseases, like tooth decay and athlete’s foot. Others help manage recurring problems, like migraines and allergies.
As a general rule, over-the-counter drugs have to be used primarily to treat a condition that does not require the direct supervision of a doctor and must be proven to be reasonably safe and well-tolerated.
Over-the-counter medications are usually also required to have little or no abuse potential. But, there are a few types of drugs such as codeine that are readily available over the counter. But codeine among others is usually in strictly limited formulations or requiring paperwork or identification to be submitted during purchase.
How hard is it to understand OTC medication labels? A blog article about OTC drugs by Doctor Joseph Rosado MD.
So this is a quick review of what you can do to feel confident when dosing and using OTC medications at home with your family. We have three tips when reviewing and reading over-the-counter Labels plus here are our thoughts on dosing liquid and/or children’s medicine:
Read the label. Understanding OTC medication labels
Plain and simple get in the habit of always reading it as we don’t want to forget to make sure we really know what ingredients we’re giving and why. No question that sometimes we use medicines to “cure” children of illnesses, infections, or deficits (prescription antibiotics, anti-infectives, chemotherapy) but most OTC medicines only treat symptoms our children experience from infections or injuries.
That makes them less necessary, although sometimes wildly helpful and soothing. Treating pain and discomfort is of course a priority for all parents when our children are uncomfortable! Consequently, we want to use OTC when they earnestly help and match the correct medicine with the symptom we’re targeting.
Know the ingredients — watch out for double dosing! Understanding OTC medication labels by Dr. Joe
So many products out there have combination medications. Many medicines for cough and cold will combine medicines for fever with medicines for mucus with medicines for cough. Some medicines combine medicines for allergy symptoms with medicine for fever. You might inadvertently be giving your child a second dose of acetaminophen (AKA “Tylenol”) when using a combination medicine without knowing it.
Keep the syringe or dosing cup – Understanding OTC medication labels
Keep the dosing devices that come with the OTC medicine you buy. We recommend using a rubber band as needed to attach it to the bottle. This rubber band can ensure it will get lost or worse yet thrown out at some point.
No question that it is confusing to dose medicines based on weight. In the past, we have found that data finds that 98% of liquid OTC medications for children have inconsistencies, excess information, or confusing dosing instructions.
Thankfully, in the medical community, there has been a big national push to help start changing this to have pediatricians write and explain doses only in milliliters or milligrams. In the past, most physicians would share dosing and explain it in terms of “teaspoons” and “ounces.”
Hopefully, as time goes on, more and more of our medical community practitioners will begin to adopt this idea and thus strive to help to standardize this where there will still be some confusion.
Pro MD TIP when it comes to OTC drugs.
Never use a “teaspoon” from the drawer to measure medicines and don’t let Grandma or a babysitter. Different teaspoons hold different amounts. Dosing devices typically measure in either milliliters or ounces, so always use the tool that came with the medicine you’re going to give a baby or young child. If you’re ever confused reach out.
Using the dosing device that comes with the medicine will help ensure you won’t have to make conversions (mL –> ounces or milliliters to teaspoons) and you can follow instructions on the label more precisely. Dosing by weight (like we do for children) is very different than dosing by age (like we do for adults).
A little more about OTC medications
Just for your personal edification, we have researched the most commonly requested and used OTC medication. Acetaminophen is the most commonly recommended OTC medication for fever. It works well for minor aches and pains, especially for people who cannot tolerate anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
Did you know that the most popular over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medication is Tylenol? It is and it is used by people in the U.S. and around the world. Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol and the generic name of the drug that is commonly found in other medications.
With that being said – you could be wondering how OTC medications are regulated? Most over-the-counter drugs are not regulated like prescription medications. Manufacturers of prescription drugs must submit clinical data to FDA to show they are safe and effective for their intended use and population before marketing them.
Are Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs an OTC medication?
Yes, many nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat inflammation, fever, and pain are available over-the-counter. OTC ibuprofen (for example, Motrin, Advil) is often recommended by health care practitioners to decrease pain and inflammation from minor orthopedic injuries.
NSAIDs medication can also be used effectively as part of the treatment for kidney stones and gallstones, where inflammation is part of the process causing pain. Ibuprofen is also frequently recommended for the treatment of fever in all age groups.
Naproxen (for example, Naprosyn, Anaprox, and Aleve) is another NSAID available over-the-counter. The benefit of over-the-counter naproxen is that it is longer lasting than ibuprofen and only needs to be taken twice a day instead of every 4 hours.
NSAIDs should not be taken by individuals with kidney disease, or those who have a history of bleeding from the stomach and bowels because NSAIDS are removed from the body by the kidneys and may increase bleeding in the stomach or bowels.
These medications are relatively contraindicated in individuals taking blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), and prasugrel (Effient) because the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may increase the chance of inappropriate bleeding.
Thanks for reading about Over The Counter Medications written by Joseph Rosado MD.
If you have any questions about dosing medicine or which medicines to use when your child is ill, please contact his offices. I hope this article helped you learn a little more about Dr. Joseph Rosado and shared the answers with you. If you want to learn more about this schedule an appointment with Dr. Rosado or purchase his book on Amazon.