When shopping at your local pharmacy there are wide variety of drugs that are intended for curing or treating specific conditions or diseases. Some of these drugs are known as over the counter drugs (OTC); these can be purchased off the shelf in stores and they do not require a doctor’s prescription. On the other hand, prescription drugs are prescribed by a doctor. They can only be purchased at pharmacies and are only intended to be used by the prescribed patient.
Often, people face a dilemma when choosing between prescription and OTC medications. OTC medications are available for common conditions such as pain, fever, or allergies. It is best to consult a family physician when considering medication for a new condition or if you are experiencing symptoms that you have never experienced before.
For instance, OTC antihistamines such as Reactine may be sufficient if you are experiencing seasonal allergy symptoms. It is always a good idea to consult a pharmacist when purchasing OTC medication for the first time because they can confirm if you are making the right choice and educate about the side effects for that specific medication. Typically, OTC medications have fewer side effects because they are available to general public – a medication with serious side effects will most likely be sold as a prescription drug. For example, antihistamines such as Clarinex and Xyzal are prescription medications because they have significant side effects such as muscle pain, nausea, drowsiness, or diarrhea.
Here is a list that compares OTC and prescriptions drugs:
|– Requires a doctor’s prescription
– Can only me dispensed/sold from a pharmacy
– Prescribed for specific use and only intended for one person
– Usually more powerful that OTC medicines
– Harmful if misused
– Requires medical diagnosis from a licensed practitioner
|– Does not require a prescription
– Sold off the shelf in stores
– Use not limited to one person (can be applicable to more than one person)
– Not as powerful as OTC medicines and usually have fewer side effects
– Harmful if misused
– Generally based off of self-diagnosis