Your medicine cabinet might hide health risks

Emoji, ill, fever

We like to keep the basics in our medicine cabinets to treat or bring relief to everyday aches, pains, nausea, fever and heartburn. However, we might not even be aware of some side effects those common medications could have. If your children or others in your home have access to the same medicine cabinet, it might be wise to read on and take note of potential problems that could arise.

Medicine, Aspirin

Aspirin, a danger in many medicine cabinets

Although almost all medicine cabinets likely have this common medication for pain treatment, it is not safe for all to use. Most adults can safely take aspirin, but it could be dangerous for older people. Those who take blood-thinning medication for heart conditions might risk intestine or stomach bleeding if they also take aspirin. Importantly, it would be best if you never give aspirin to children under age two. Furthermore, teenagers who are recovering from flu, chickenpox or another viral infection should avoid taking aspirin. Under such circumstances, Reye’s syndrome could develop. It is rare but serious and causes liver damage, brain swelling and confusion.

Medicine, prescription

Do not stash prescription medicine

Doctors prescribe medicines for specific conditions. Once your health has improved, you should discard unused prescription medicines. However, it is crucial to do this safely. Crush tablets or capsules, and then mix it into something that no one would eat, such as cat litter or coffee grounds destined for the trash. If you continue to take strong painkillers or sleep medication, it could pose dependency risks. In the same vein, taking antibiotics for the wrong or nonexistent conditions could cause bacterial infections, ultimately requiring even more medicine and treatment.

Other pain-relieving medicine

NSAIDs are Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen like Aleve or ibuprofen like Advil and Motrin. These medicines can relieve pain and swelling in people with inflammation. However, like aspirin, they also pose dangers for those who are on prescription blood thinners. Internal bleeding can occur, and taking them often and for extended periods increases risks of stroke or heart attack. In addition, NSAIDs can damage your kidneys, particulary in people who have existing kidney problems.

Medicine, Antacid chews

Chewable antacids have many side effects

If you see all the potential side effects of chewable antacids, you might want to get rid of them all. They can be useful if you have excess stomach acid that causes indigestion or pain. However, taking them could lead to cramps, constipation and diarrhea. When it comes to acid blockers such as Tagamet or Pepcid AC, a long list of side effects is possible. They include dizziness, headaches, confusion, sore throat, chest tightness, unusual heartbeat, weakness and fever.

Heartburn medicine

Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec are Proton Pump Inhibitors that reduce the production of gastric acid. They can ease acid reflux pain and other stomach acid-related conditions in the short-term. However, using them for long periods could cause gut infections. Furthermore, they could compromise your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Scrabble, pain

Mouthwash risks

It would be best if you did not swallow mouthwash because it could cause stomach damage, nausea and vomiting. Never give it to children younger than six years because they might not be able to avoid swallowing it.

Antihistamines could cause other health problems

If you suffer from allergies that cause runny nose, sneezing, itchiness and coughing, you might rely on antihistamines to bring relief. However, did you know that antihistamines could be to blame for you feeling lightheaded, drowsy, nervous and confused? Moreover, they can adversely affect your appetite, sex and sleep. It could stop your sneezing, but you could experience vomiting, diarrhea or constipation instead.

Cotton swabs

One last thing: Cotton swabs

Q-tips are perfect to use when you do your nails, put on makeup, and they may be handy in many household chores. What they are not ideal for is to clean out the wax from your ears. Your body manufactures earwax as a part of your body’s defense system. If you try to remove it with a cotton swab, you might do more harm than good. What typically happens is that the cotton swab only serves to push the wax deeper into your ear.

Another last thing

If you take prescription medicines, do not use any over-the-counter medication simultaneously — not even supplements. It could affect the effectiveness of the prescribed drugs. Talk to your doctor before combining anything in your medicine cabinet with prescribed medication.

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