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FDA issues report warning drivers about using over the counter drugs

Using over the counter medications is often the easiest way to alleviate a headache or other minor ailment.

Using over the counter medications is often the easiest way to alleviate a headache or other minor ailment. But rarely do users ever take the time to understand what the potential side effects are of these popular medications if used incorrectly or irresponsibly. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is the government agency in charge of banning drugs from usage, and they've recently issued a warning urging people to consider the risks involved with of over the counter drugs.

Know the side effects
While over the counter medications generally have a reputation of being extremely safe, the side effects of each specific drug should always be taken seriously. If someone experiences any of the common side effects of these medications, such as drowsiness, while operating a vehicle, serious consequences could result.

Dr. Ali Mohamadi, a medical officer with the FDA, describes how you can feel the effects of taking these common drugs within hours of consuming them, which can unknowingly impair your driving skills.

"You can feel the effects some OTC medicines can have on your driving for a short time after you take them, or their effects can last for several hours," Mohamadi said in a statement. "If you have not had enough sleep, taking medicine with a side effect that causes drowsiness can add to the sleepiness and fatigue you may already feel. Being drowsy behind the wheel is dangerous; it can impair your driving skills."

Using OTC drugs carefully
If you will need to drive after taking over the counter drugs, it's important to read the label for the facts of the medication. For taking multiple medications, the FDA urges users to never mix drugs that share an active ingredient. The same goes for warnings, so if you're taking different over the counter medications for separate ailments, always make sure that they don't share warnings, such as drowsiness, heartburn or liver damage.

An easy way to safely use these popular medications is by looking for certain phrases on the labels. Statements such as, "you may experience drowsiness" or "do not operate heavy machinery while under the influence" are distinct messages that need to be obeyed. When it comes to general drugs that cause drowsiness, the FDA lists the following:

  • Antihistamines for allergic symptoms
  • Antidiarrheals for diarrhea or nausea
  • Antiemetics for vomiting or motion sickness

If you're interested in learning more about these popular medications, never hesitate to contact your physician with any inquiries, and always take them as instructed.

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