Although there are benefits to the availability of over-the-counter products (eg, rapid access to effective medications, decreased utilization of the health care system, and patient autonomy), there also are risks to their use that clinicians should know and discuss with their patients and families. These include delay in seeking advice from a health care professional, increased drug-drug interactions, potential for misuse and abuse, and increased adverse effects when not used properly.

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Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are widely marketed and frequently used to treat most health problems in adults and children. The use of symptomatic treatments, such as OTC medications for the common cold, is controversial. Children often receive analgesics, decongestants, antihistamines, expectorants, and cough suppressants during the course of their illnesses. However, these OTC products have not been proven to be safe and effective in young children. In addition, their common use...

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