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Warnings About Over-the-Counter Drugs

October 8, 2016
Plain English Version

OTCIt is not always safe to take over-the-counter drugs (OTCs). The longer you take them, the greater the risk you will incur. They may interact with other drugs you take. Talking to a doctor or nurse before you begin taking an OTC is a good idea.

A new study says the use of certain drugs intended to deal with heartburn is linked to kidney problems. These types of drugs are Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs are full of risk for many ailments. These include anemia and reducing the power of vitamins and minerals in the body.

Some of OTC brand names are Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec. They are very popular. Recent studies of OTCs have shown links to bone fractures. Other risks are seizures and muscle spasms. There is also a higher risk of a dangerous form of diarrhea called C. difficile infections.

The discovery of a link between OTCs and kidney disease is new. Long-term use is regularly taking OTCs for more than a year. Doctors now say people using OTCs should have their kidneys monitored on a regular basis.

Another family of drugs are H2 receptor antagonists. H2 brand names include Zantac, Tagamet and Pepcid. Scientists have noted a link between these drugs and kidney disease. They also may have side effects such as headaches, constipation and nausea.

Experts say antacids like Tums, Rolaids, Pepto-Bismol or Milk of Magnesia are not as harmful.

It is essential for you to see a doctor if you use any of these OTC drugs for long periods.

Source: The New York Times January 14, 2016

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