Dr Oz: Dangers Of OTC Medications
Dr Oz shared that nearly 240 million Americans take over-the-counter medicines regularly and almost none of them think twice about driving. The reality is that a regular dose of OTC meds can have the equivalent effect of drinking three glasses of wine. The FDA has issued a new warning about over-the-counter medications and driving, so Dr Oz sent an undercover reporter to find out more.
Three women participated in a blind test of some of the most popular over-the-counter medications. They were given the standard dose and then sent to do a driving test that involved basic skills like parallel parking and essential skills like steering and braking. All three women thought they were fine to drive.
Dr Oz: Impaired Driving From OTC Meds?
One woman was on an allergy medication that is available at every drug store in America, and she struggled to listen to, understand, and follow directions. The second woman took a flu remedy the night before. She was unable to parallel park and even ran over a cone.
They then wanted to know what would happen if the women combined the over-the-counter medications with alcohol. One woman agreed to it, and then afterward said she definitely felt impaired, although a breathalyzer test showed that she was under the legal limit. On the simulator, she fell asleep as a result of taking a commonly used antihistamine and drinking a glass of wine.
Dr Oz: Alarming Effects Of Over-The-Counter Medicine
Elisabeth Leamy, an investigative reporter, shared that what blew her away was that the women thought they were fine to drive, although the testing showed they weren’t. She said the drugs sabotage your judgement, so her takeaway is that you need to make the decision not to drive before taking the medications.
Dr Oz was joined by Nancy Nkansah, a clinical pharmacist, who explained that one of the big issues is the drug label because the caution label is either hard to find or too small to easily read. Nancy said many people also don’t share with their doctors the different over-the-counter medicines they’re taking when they’re taking and sharing their other medicines, so doctors prescribe medicines with additive effects.
Dr Oz: Antihistamines & Impaired Driving
Nancy said there are two offenders that people need to be aware of when it comes to impaired driving due to over-the-counter medications. The first is antihistamines. Nancy said people need to look at the back of the product and look for the product name diphenhydramine, which is in many different allergy medications. She said what people don’t know is that taking two doses of diphenhydramine is the equivalent to drinking at least three glasses of wine.
Some examples of products that contain diphenhydramine are nighttime sleep aids, cough and flu tablets, anti-nausea pills, acetaminophen PM, and allergy medications. She said there are over 30 products with diphenhydramine in them.
Nancy suggested that you instead take non-sedating antihistamines.
Dr Oz: Nighttime Cold & Flu Medication Warning
The next big offender is cold and flu medications. Nancy explained that the nighttime medications contain doxylamine or dextromethorphan as active ingredients, or 10% alcohol as an inactive ingredient. If you look at the label, it will say that you’re not supposed to drink alcohol while taking them.
If you want some nighttime relief, try half the dose right before bedtime. If you take the full dose, wait 12 hours before getting on the road.
Dr Oz: Medicine Taking Tips
Nancy had three tips to share, the first of which was to make sure you read the labels on the back of the medicines. Second, make sure you know how your body is going to react to the medicine. Third, speak with the pharmacist about what other medicines your taking to make sure there won’t be an additive effect.