Almost everybody’s taken some kind of over-the-counter drug. But how do you know you’re making the best choice when you pick up more headache or heartburn medicine?

Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean and professor of family medicine at the University of Alabama, wants more people to understand the benefits and risks involved with OTC medicines and supplements.

Today, Streiffer presented “Over-the-Counter Drugs: A Prescription for Confusion.” It’s all part of a lecture series for Alabama’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Streiffer said there are more than 300,000 OTC drugs on the market. Many of those can cause serious side effects or bad interactions with other drugs you may be taking.

“There’s a lot of potential danger,” he said. “Because so many over-the-counter drugs today were formerly prescription drugs, and even the ones that weren’t ever prescription are real drugs. They have potential side effects, adverse effects, and interact with other things.”

Streiffer said always check with your doctor before mixing any OTC drugs or supplements with any prescription medication.

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