Perspective: Use Your Head When It Comes To COVID-19

May 29, 2020

Recently there have been some recommendations being made about treating covid-19 with over-the-counter medications.  As a pharmacy student I felt compelled to share my opinion and would like five aspects to be understood. 

One, over the counter medication is non-prescription medication that is used by many people every day.  These medications can be a convenient and effective solution when used correctly and as intended.  These medications can also be dangerous when directions are not properly followed.  

Two, much like a nutritional fact label, the FDA also mandates a drug fact label.  A drug fact label has many components that aid in selection of over the counter products.  These facts help inform purchasers of the active ingredients, dosage, the purpose, and the directions. This includes any special warnings such as side effects to be aware of.  Reading the label is the key to proper medication use. 

Three, there are many medications that are available without a prescription for many different uses.  Two medications that stand out to me in the number of different purposes and how commonly they are used are acetaminophen and ibuprofen.  Taking too much acetaminophen can cause liver damage.  Ibuprofen can increase a person’s risk for stomach and heart issues when taken on a regular basis. That’s especially true in people over the age of 65 or with other health concerns such as kidney disease. 

Four, many medications contain multiple active ingredients.  It is easy to overlook this and take more than the recommended dose of various agents.  There are also many medications that work similarly and can be dangerous when taken together.

Five, before taking an over the counter medication, you should read the label thoroughly to make sure that there are no warnings specific to you. 

If any questions still remain, a pharmacist or doctor should be consulted.

I’m Sarah Vandermillen, and that’s my perspective.