Lake Regional Health System | Thrive | Winter 2021 11 F rom pain relievers to cold rem- edies, you can easily buy over-the- counter (OTC) medicines at many stores — and without a prescrip- tion from a doctor. But that doesn’t mean these medications are free of health risks. “Like prescription drugs, OTC products can cause side effects or bad reactions; for instance, if you take them in the wrong way or mix them with certain other medicines,” says Whitney Lodge, pharmacist in charge at Lake Regional Pharmacy – Eldon. “That’s why you need to be careful when it comes to OTC medicines, too.” Here are five safety tips: 1. Read the label. This is a crucial first step. For instance, find out if the medicine will treat your symp- toms, who should not take it and how to use it. 2. Take the medicine exactly as directed. Check with a pharma- cist or your doctor if you have questions about how to use an OTC drug. 3. Keep your doctor informed. Your doctor needs to know about every product you take, including OTC drugs, vitamins and herbal supple- ments. You can share your list of medicines and supplements at your next doctor visit. But if you also take a prescription medicine, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying an OTC medicine. Make sure it will not interfere with your prescription medicine or cause a side effect. WELLNESS OTC medicines: 5 key tips for taking them safely FIND A PHARMACY NEAR YOU Lake Regional Pharmacy has five retail locations throughout the lake area: Camdenton, Eldon, Lake Ozark, Laurie and Osage Beach. Each location offers free prescription delivery to surrounding areas, online refills, Sync Your Refills, and phone and text reminders. Learn more at . 4. Be careful when taking more than one drug. Some OTC drugs (like cold medicines and pain relievers) may contain the same active ingre- dients. So if you take more than one medicine for different problems, you could end up taking too much of an active ingredient. Solution: Read the ingredients list to compare the active ingredients in each medicine. 5. Don’t use a spoon to take the medicine. Use the cup or other dosing device that came with it. Sources:; U.S. Food and Drug Administration Toss the cotton Discard the cotton ball from a new bottle of pills. The cotton can draw moisture into the bottle and cause the medicine to be less effective. National Institutes of Health