Lifewatch: Which over-the-counter medicine is right for me?

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Researchers say this could be the biggest year for over-the counter medicine sales.

Though the drugs are available without a doctor's prescription, there are some things you can do to help you decide which medications are right for you.

"Treat the symptom you have, not all the other symptoms you might have," said Pharmacist Harminder Sikand.

Sikand says it's easy to be confused by all the choices, but don't take more than you need.

"I think it's human behavior to be concerned and to take more over the counter drugs to prevent, perhaps an illness," said Sikand.

Whether it's a drug store or a supermarket, researchers expect sales of over-the-counter medicines to skyrocket mostly because of news about H1N1.

"I think if you have some Tylenol and Motrin that's all you need and everything else is just noise," said ER Physician Dr. Roneet Lev.

Dr. Lev said most over-the-counter medicines are fancy packaging with the same active ingredients - acetaminophen for pain and fever; or ibuprofen for fever and inflammation.  All you have to do is look at the label.

"What I do for myself is I look at the big shelf with all the wonderful things and I look and see what's cheapest and that's what I buy," said Dr. Lev.

Talk to you doctor before you take more than one over the counter medicine.  Ask how medicines work together in your body.  Sometimes drugs cause problems when they are taken together.