The Most Misused Over-the-Counter Drugs

Every year hundreds of thousands of people are rushed to the emergency room after misusing over-the-counter drugs. Dr. Oz counts down the top 5 OTC medications that you need to exercise caution with when taking.

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2. Antihistamines

Millions of Americans experience the sniffles, sneezing, itching, coughing, watery eyes and scratchy throats associated with allergies. OTC antihistamines with certain ingredients, such as diphenhydramine, cause drowsiness. They should only be taken at night – not during the day – when you need to be most alert, particularly while driving.

Safety rule

Take most antihistamines, especially those containing diphenhydramine, only at night. If your main symptom is congestion, try a decongestant instead to avoid drowsiness.

1. NSAIDs (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs)

The #1 most misused drugs in America are non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory pain relievers, or NSAIDS (Advil, Aleve, Motrin). Too often people use NSAIDs for longer than needed at too high a dosage, which can thin stomach lining and cause ulcers. In fact, NSAID use is the second most common cause of ulcers after H.pylori infection. Misuse can also lead to rebound headaches, kidney problems and increased risk of heart and stroke.


Safety rule

To avoid gastrointestinal problems, always take NSAIDs with food. (A glass of milk provides a quick way to avoid an upset stomach.) Never take NSAIDs for more than 10 days without talking with your doctor.