Monday, March 18, 2013

Knowing How to Read Over-the-Counter Medication Labels

With all the over-the-counter medications available to us, it is important that we know how to read the labels that contain all the drug facts. Labels provide information for individuals to follow when using the medication. This information includes what the medicine is supposed to do, who should or should not take it, and how to take it properly.

Most drug facts labels are easy to read and should be understandable. But if you do have more questions, do not hesitate to ask a doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare professional about your concerns. The drug facts label is easy to read and uses simple language to explain directions, warnings and inactive ingredients.
Below, we have laid out for you the order in which all over-the-counter medication is required to be shown on the drug facts label.  We have also provided a sample of how a drug facts label will appear on the medication bottle.

Active Ingredients: The Active Ingredients section of the label tells you the names of the active ingredients and what those ingredients are used for (i.e., to relieve pain, suppress a cough or reduce a fever). There can be more than one active ingredient in each medication.
Uses: This section will list the symptoms the medicine is made to treat.

Warnings: This section will list possible side effects, if you should talk to a doctor before using the medication, and what medicines you should not take at the same time as that medication. It will also list any other important safety information such as when to stop taking a medication and when to talk to a doctor.

Directions: This section will tell you how much of the medication you should take and how often you can take it. It will also list the maximum amount you should take in one day. 
Other Information: This section of the label, you can find information regarding how to store the medication (i.e. what temperature it should be stored at, and when the medicine will expire)

Inactive Ingredients: This section will list ingredients such as preservatives, flavoring, food coloring and other ingredients not used to actually treat the symptoms. This is a good place to check for any possible food allergies.
Questions or Comments: This section should provide a number for the company who makes the medication, in the event that you need to contact them with comments or questions regarding the medication.

Here are a few points to remember when taking over-the-counter medication:
·         These medications need to be treated with the same care and caution as prescription medications.
·         If you have any questions regarding your medication, please do not hesitate to ask your doctor, pharmacist or a nurse practitioner.
·         Always follow the dosing recommendations listed on the medication.
·         Make sure medicine is put up and out of sight.

If you or someone you know has been poisoned or taken the wrong medication, please call 1-800-222-1222.

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