Even over-the-counter drugs still have some risk

When you have a minor health problem, non-prescription drugs can be a convenient and inexpensive way to go.

But Dr. John Swartzberg at the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter reminds us that over-the-counter does not mean harmless.

"We all think that if it's sold over-the-counter, if I can use my own judgment to buy and I don't need a doctor's judgment to prescribe it, then it must be safe," Swartzberg says.

"And if it's safe and a little bit is good, then you might assume more might be better. So, an awful lot of people will essentially overdose on these OTC drugs and that's just the same as overdosing with any other drug."

The misuse of non-prescription medications sends thousands of people to the hospital each year.

Swartzberg says all drugs have some risk. So you need to carefully read the labels and package inserts.

Remember that non-prescription medications can interact with the other drugs that you take and cause serious side-effects, even death.

Play it safe. Never take more than the recommended dose and never take a drug for longer than recommended, unless your doctor approves.

For more information

OTC Medicines: Know Your Risks and Reduce Them