Use Over-the-Counter Pain Meds As Directed

September 5, 2013 in STSMPT

True or False? Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications are safe to use. Generally speaking, this statement is true as long as they are taken as directed. The problem is the growing concern of misuse of non-prescription medicine, especially those containing acetaminophen.

One recent study observed 500 adults, age 18-80, and their use of acetaminophen based non-prescription drugs over a 24-hour period. The participants were given the task to apportion out doses of the meds for the day and were asked about the safety of taking additional medications with the first.

The results of the study are startling. About 24% of the participants surpassed the recommended dosage in a 24-hour period, either by putting out too many pills at one dosing or by spacing the doses too closely together. What’s more, nearly half of the adults in the study mixed more than one acetaminophen product in one dosing.
To avoid misuse of OTC pain medications, read all the labels and pay close attention to the dosage information and maximum number of pills allowed in a 24-hour time span. Write down the time you take a dose so as not to mistakenly take more too soon. If the pain persists, consult your doctor. Source: Wolf M, King J, Jacobson K, et al. Risk of unintentional overdose with non-prescription acetaminophen products. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2012 Dec; 27 (12): 1587-1593.

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