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Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are used to treat a variety of conditions, from headaches to stomachaches. These medicines are easily accessible because you do not need a prescription from a doctor to purchase them. Therefore, OTC medicines are an appealing treatment option.

However, it is important to remember that just like prescription medicines, OTC products can cause serious side effects especially if they are taken wrong or with other medicines. Here are a few tips to help you make safe choices and reduce your risk of harm when using OTC medicines.

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Few caregivers are more devoted than parents when caring for a child. Yet, even the most cautious and educated parents will make mistakes when giving medicine to children or fail to protect children from accidental poisonings. Dangerous mistakes with medicines are three times more likely with children than adults, and more than half of all accidental poisonings—mostly with medicines—occur in children less than 5 years old. The list that follows, although not inclusive, covers 10 important safety tips for parents.

topten spot-smMost people wouldn't think twice about applying over-the-counter (OTC) creams, lotions, ointments, sprays, or patches to the skin. However, the medicines in these products can enter the body just like medicines taken by mouth.

topten spot-smIs your medicine cabinet a source for a teen’s legal “high?” Because a doctor’s prescription is not needed, many mistakenly believe that over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are safer than prescription medicines and illegal street drugs. They are in fact safe and effective when taken as directed, but even OTC medicines—including herbals—can cause serious and potentially fatal side effects when abused.

topten spot-smOver-the-counter liquid medications can be found in practically every medicine cabinet. Surprisingly though, there’s not a standard way to measure liquid medicines doses.

topten spot-smIt’s a fact of life. Medication errors happen every day in all healthcare settings, even in the most prestigious medical centers. And more than ever, consumers are aware of just how often these medications errors can happen. But with this knowledge comes power. Consumers can and should take an active role when it comes to medication safety during a hospitalization.

topten spot-smTraveling can be hectic enough without the added problem of worrying about your medicines. So when you’re on-the-go, it’s important to make sure your medicine travels safely with you. Here are some things to keep in mind to reduce the risk that something will go wrong: 

topten spot-smMost pharmacists, physicians, and consumer advocates believe that to ensure safe medication use, all patients must know important information about the medicines they are taking. Here is a list of the “top ten” questions you should have answered before beginning any new medication:

topten spot-smWith so many different medication names, it's possible for a mix-up to occur between two different drugs. This can occur because many medications share very similar letters. When spoken or written, these names can sound or look very similar. We call these medications, sound-alike or look-alike medications.

topten spot-smSometimes you need to look for clues that could alert you to a mistake with your medication. Check it out with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before taking your medicine if: