Over-The-Counter (OTC)

What does it mean if something is over-the-counter (OTC)?

Over-the-counter (OTC) is a term most often applied to medicine, and it refers to medication that can be bought without a prescription.

Some examples of common OTC medicines include:

  • aspirin
  • acetaminophen
  • decongestants
  • antacids
  • laxatives
  • antihistamines

These medications are safe to take when the directions on the label are followed, and they help relieve a large number of symptoms.

Should a doctor know if their patient takes OTC medicine?

While OTC medicine is easy to obtain without a doctor’s prescription, in some cases it is still important to check with a doctor before taking it.

For example, some OTC medicines, such as aspirin, may not be safe to take when on certain drugs or when diagnosed with a certain health condition. Additionally, those with high blood pressure should not take some decongestants.

A doctor can inform their patient about when taking these drugs is or isn’t safe.

How are OTC medicines important in healthcare?

OTC medicine allows a patient to take a more active role in their healthcare. Additionally, it provides a way for patients to obtain relief from their symptoms or acute illness without having to see a doctor.

However, OTC medications increase the risk of drug misuse, so patients must be conscious of the medicine taken and its potential interactions, even if it is an OTC option. It is also important to correctly follow the instructions of the package.