Although some OTC medications are necessary to prevent serious events, e.g., a daily aspirin to prevent heart attack or stroke in high-risk people, most are used to relieve minor health conditions such as allergies, headache, or heartburn. While these may be uncomfortable or even distressing, they are generally not life-threatening. However, like any other drug, OTC drugs can cause illness and even death, so should be avoided for minor problems whenever possible.
This post will give you information on alternatives to OTC medication. Future posts will show how to work with your symptoms to recognise the message they are sending you.
The first step in finding a medication alternative is to discover the triggers to your problem. Say you have headaches. Start to document when they occur and if there is a pattern to the days, time of day, relationship to meals, certain foods, or stress, tiredness from lack of sleep or overexertion, eyestrain, or any other factors. Patterns of occurrence can help you avoid the headaches and will point to the alternative treatments, you can put in place. For example you may take steps to get more sleep, relieve and manage stress, avoid certain foods, eat more frequently or have your glasses changed.
Treatments such as biofeedback, acupuncture, homeopathy, visualization, traditional Chinese medicine, or energy medicine may also prevent headaches, including migraines, and many other conditions.
When headaches occur, instead of taking a drug you could try lying down in a darkened room with an ice pack on your forehead, sleeping, or eating if the headache is related to hunger. Heat and cold are also useful for relieving other forms of pain such as back pain.
Heartburn is another common symptom with twenty-five percent of those in western countries experiencimng it once a month, twelve percent every week and five percent every day. Non-medication remedies for heartburn include eating ginger, but the best thing is to take steps to avoid heartburn. Maintain a healthy weight, don't eat within two hours of lying down, avoid tobacco and alcohol and foods that can cause heartburn such as coffee, chocolate, fatty or fried foods.
Sinusitis and Nausea
Nausea may be treated by avoiding spicy foods, caffeine, or pop, restricting intake to clear fluids like ginger tea, or to small amounts of bland food (for nausea without vomiting). Taking deep slow breaths can also reduce feelings of nausea.
These are just a few of the conditions that may be treated with alternatives to drugs. Prevention by identifying triggers to conditions that occur regularly, and taking steps to avoid them, or learning how to deal differently with those you cannot avoid, is important. But plan for those times when prevention does not work, so that you have the natural alternatives to medication on hand and will not have to turn to OTC drugs for relief.