Safely Use Over-the-Counter Drugs: 8 Ways to Work With Your Doctor


Doctor’s phones across the country are ringing off the hook. Concerned health consumers like you are asking how the FDA’s potential restrictions on the use of decongestants may raise blood pressure levels. Berman says, “Ask your doctor what products or ingredients you can take when you have a cold or fever.” And, she points out, the pharmacist also makes an excellent resource.

Tip # 7: Ask About the New Drug Warning

“Acetaminophen is pretty toxic if the safe dosage is exceeded,” Calhoun says. ”But it is a safe drug when taken as directed. The concern that physicians have is that patients may inadvertently overdose.”

The FDA advisory committee voted that the single adult acetaminophen dose should be no more than 650 milligrams. That is much lower than the current 1,000 milligrams that is in two tablets of certain over-the-counter pain products. The FDA advisory panel and other experts also said that the maximum total acetaminophen dose for 24 hours, now at 4,000 milligrams, should be reduced. The FDA is not obligated to follow the advice of its advisory arms. But it usually does. So talk to your doctor to see if you need to curtail your acetaminophen use.

This same advice holds any time there is news about a medication you take whether it’s an OTC or a prescription medication.

Tip # 8 Ask About Possible Side Effects

Being forewarned is being forearmed. Moore says, “Ask your doctor about what side effects you should be aware of for any of the medications you routinely take. And find out if any of these side effects suggest you should stop taking the drug.” She tells WebMD that if a drug is strong enough to have an effect, it’s strong enough to have a side effect. “That,” she says, “is worth having a conversation with the doctor or pharmacist about.”