RALEIGH, N.C. — When you need a prescription, your doctor usually decides which one you get, but when it comes to buying over-the-counter medication, you have a lot of things to consider.
When you have a cold, sometimes the only thing worse than being sick is buying medicine to make you feel better. Multisymptom medicines treat everything from headache and fever to a stuffy nose, but what if you only have one of those symptoms?
"There are products out there that will just treat one symptom," pharmacist Charlotte Luft said.
It is best to find a medicine that treats only the symptoms you have. Otherwise, you end up taking medication you do not need. Luft said if you are taking more than one medicine, make sure they do not contain the same active ingredients.
"Too much Tylenol can damage your liver, so you need to be careful about that," she said.
People with certain health conditions also need to shop with care. Diabetics need to watch out for sugar and alcohol in some liquids. Fortunately, there are medicines specifically for people with those conditions.
If you are not sure what to take, just ask your pharmacist. Luft said he or she should be more than happy to leave the counter and help you pick what's best for you.
You also need to be careful about taking cold medications that contain herbal remedies. They, too, can interact with prescription medications.