Millions of Americans use over-the-counter (OTC) medications for relief of minor aches and pains.
Acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in the United States – they are found in many pain relievers, fever reducers, sleep aids, allergy medications, and cough medicines. NSAIDs are found in aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. There are some OTC pain medications that combine the two ingredients.
While OTC medications are readily available, they still carry risks as many contain acetaminophen and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Acetaminophen can cause severe liver damage, if it is not safely taken, while NSAIDs can cause severe stomach bleeding.
It’s important to read the labels of your medication for dosage information to avoid an overdose, be aware of the ingredients in your medicines, and reach out to your physician or pharmacist when you have specific questions about the OTC medications you are taking.
If you’re interesting in learning more about drug safety, the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition’s “Know Your Dose” campaign highlights the importance of safe medicine use.
The Alliance’s drug safety page provides useful information – including a patient quiz on safe medicine use, storage and disposal as well as informational “pocket films.”