Medicine cabinets in Carbon County contain a growing choice of non-prescription, over-the-counter drugs to treat an expanding range of ailments.
The United States Food and Drug Administration determines whether medicines are prescription or non-prescription.
Prescription medicines are safe and effective when used under a doctor's care. Non-prescription or over-the-counter drugs are medicines the FDA decides are safe and effective without a doctor's care.
The FDA has the authority to decide when a prescription drug can be sold directly to consumers. As a result of the regulatory process, more than 700 products sold over the counter today use ingredients or dosage strengths available only by prescription 30 years ago.
With the opportunities in self-medication come new responsibilities and an increased need for knowledge.
Patients do not ignore a doctor's instructions for using a prescription drug and people should not ignore the label when taking an over-the-counter medicine, emphasized the federal agency.
Information printed on the label includes:
Active ingredients - therapeutic substances in medicine.
Purpose - product category, such as antihistamine, antacid or cough suppressant.
Uses - symptoms or diseases or illnesses the product will treat or prevent.
Warnings - when not to use the product, when to stop taking the medicine, when to see a doctor and possible side effects associated with the drug.
Directions - how much to take, how to take and how long to take the medicine.
Inactive ingredients - substances like binders, colors or flavoring
People should never misuse over-the-counter medicines by taking the products longer or in higher doses than recommended on the label, stressed the FDA. Symptoms that persist are a clear signal it's time to see a doctor.
Although mild and relatively uncommon, interactions involving over-the-counter drugs can produce unwanted results or make medicines less effective.
It is especially important to know about drug interactions when people are taking prescription and over-the-counter drugs at the same time.
Some drugs can also interact with foods and beverages as well as with health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease and high blood pressure.
To reduce potential problems, the FDA cautions Carbon County residents to:
Avoid consuming alcohol when taking antihistamines, cough-cold products with the ingredient dextromethorphan or products to treat sleeplessness.
Never use over-the-counter drugs to treat sleeplessness while taking prescription sedatives or tranquilizers.
Check with physicians before using products containing aspirin while taking a prescription blood thinner.
People with diabetes or gout should also consult with a doctor before using over-the-counter products containing aspirin.
Never take laxatives when experiencing stomach pain, nausea or vomiting.
Unless directed by a doctor, never use a nasal decongestant while taking a prescription drug for high blood pressure or depression.
People with heart or thyroid disease, diabetes or prostate problems should also consult a physician before using nasal decongestants.
Store medicines in a cool, dry place or as stated on the label.
Keep medicines in original containers and throw away products past the expiration date.
When pregnant or breast-feeding, consult a doctor or pharmacist before taking prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines.
Follow dosage instructions and age or weight limits when giving medicine to children.
When youth are present, re-lock child-resistant closures after using medicines.
Makers of over-the-counter medicines seal most products in tamper-evident packaging. Designed to protect against criminal tampering, TEP works by providing visible evidence when packages have been disturbed. Local residents should inspect the outer packaging for damage before purchasing products If anything looks suspicious, consumers should be suspicious, stressed the FDA.