Over-the-Counter Medicine PrecautionsSkip to the navigation
Know the benefits and side effects of a medicine before taking it. Use medicines only if nondrug approaches are not working.
Follow these over-the-counter medicine precautions.
- Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box . Or let your doctor know why you think you should take the medicine in a different way.
- Take the minimum effective dose. When using a liquid drug, use the measuring device that comes with the drug.
- Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
- Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
- If you are or could be pregnant, call your doctor before taking any medicine.
- Keep a list of all your medicines (What is a PDF document?) , including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements. And share the list with your doctor.
Here are some safety tips about giving children medicines:
- Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 unless your doctor tells you to, because of the risk of Reye syndrome .
- Talk to your doctor before you give fever medicine to a baby who is 3 months of age or younger. This is to make sure a young baby's fever is not a sign of a serious illness. Ask your doctor what other medicines may not be safe to give your child.
- Don't take medicines in front of small children. Children are great mimics. Don't say that medicine tastes like candy.
- Keep medicines, vitamins, and supplements tightly capped in their original containers. Store them as directed and keep them out of the reach of children.
For more information, see Quick Tips: Giving Over-the-Counter Medicines to Children.
- Cancer Pain
- Influenza (Seasonal Flu)
- Insect Bites and Stings and Spider Bites
- Nonprescription Medicines and Products
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- Relieving A Cough
- Sore Throat and Other Throat Problems
- Tendon Injury (Tendinopathy)
- Tick Bites
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Theresa O'Young, PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy
Current as ofAugust 14, 2016