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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 slideshow.gif. 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.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerTheresa O'Young, PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy
Last RevisedMarch 9, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 09, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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