What are over-the-counter medicines?
You can buy over-the-counter medicines from a pharmacy with no prescription required. Over-the-counter medicines are part of self-medication. The symptoms of the common flu, for example, can be alleviated by rest, drinking warm drinks, sucking on sugar-free throat lozenges, and by inhaling vapour. When necessary, you can also alleviate flu symptoms with over-the-counter medicines.
When can I use over-the-counter medicines?
When your symptoms indicate a mild illness suitable for self-medication so clearly that a doctor's opinion is not necessary. A fever related to the flu, for example, can be reduced with painkillers. The symptoms are mild and temporary. Nasal congestion related to the flu, for example, can be alleviated with nasal sprays.
A doctor has previously determined the need for medication. You do not have to visit the doctor's office every year for a pollen allergy, for example, if the allergy has been diagnosed previously and over-the-counter medicines have been suitable.
Pharmacy staff can also give advice on home care and over-the-counter medicines; they can also direct you to visit the doctor's office.
Can over-the-counter medicines cause harm?
Over-the-counter medicines have adverse effects, too, just like all medicines. The long-term use of over-the-counter medicines may cause harm. The use of nasal sprays that contract the mucous membranes of the nose on adults and over ten-year-olds for longer than ten days, and longer than five days on children between two and ten years of age, may damage the mucous membranes or maintain the congestion of the nose. The long-term use of over-the-counter medicines may cover the symptoms of a more serious illness and delay a visit to the doctor's office.