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Over-the-Counter Medicine Precautions

Over-the-Counter Medicine Precautions

Know the benefits and side effects of a medicine before taking it. Use medicines only if nondrug approaches are not working.

Follow these over-the-counter medicine precautions.

  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box . Or let your doctor know why you think you should take the medicine in a different way.
  • Take the minimum effective dose. When using a liquid drug, use the measuring device that comes with the drug.
  • Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, call your doctor before taking any medicine.
  • Keep a list of all your medicines (What is a PDF document?) , including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements. And share the list with your doctor.

Here are some safety tips about giving children medicines:

  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 unless your doctor tells you to, because of the risk of Reye syndrome .
  • Talk to your doctor before you give fever medicine to a baby who is 3 months of age or younger. This is to make sure a young baby's fever is not a sign of a serious illness. Ask your doctor what other medicines may not be safe to give your child.
  • Don't take medicines in front of small children. Children are great mimics. Don't say that medicine tastes like candy.
  • Keep medicines, vitamins, and supplements tightly capped in their original containers. Store them as directed and keep them out of the reach of children.

For more information, see Quick Tips: Giving Over-the-Counter Medicines to Children.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Theresa O'Young, PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy
Last Revised March 9, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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