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  • What are over-the-counter drugs?

    Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are drugs you can buy without a prescription. You've probably heard of OTC drugs like Zyrtec® and Prilosec®. Pharmacies and convenience stores sell many kinds of over-the-counter drugs. These drugs treat a range of conditions and symptoms.

    Have you ever used an over-the-counter drug to treat a cold, upset stomach, headache or other condition? Over-the-counter drugs offer relief from some symptoms. The benefit of using an over-the-counter drug is convenience. You don't miss work or other activities to go to the doctor. Also, in most cases, over-the-counter drugs are less expensive than prescription drugs.

    It's important to be informed about the drugs you use. You should know about how a drug you are considering for use will interact with a drug that you currently use. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements all can cause side effects. Also, some combinations of drugs, vitamins and even food can cause side effects or alter a drug's effectiveness. Be sure to tell your doctor and your pharmacist about all the drugs that you use, including over-the-counter drugs.

    When taking over-the-counter drugs, be smart and be safe. Follow the directions on the box. Read all warnings. If your symptoms do not go away, see your doctor.