Over-the-counter vs Prescription: Which Do You Need?


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When it comes to treating health problems, there are some forms of treatment that you can look into without having to see a medical professional. Others are only available if you seek professional help. Over-the-counter and prescription treatment can each have their uses. This post delves into a few different types of treatment and when to opt for over-the-counter vs prescription. 


Painkillers are some of the most common forms of medication. Many painkillers are available over the counter including aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. These can be effective against many mild pains such as headaches, stomach cramps, back aches, toothache and achy joints.

Some people find that these painkillers are not enough however. If pain persists even after taking painkillers, you may want to consider talking to a doctor about prescription pain relief. Such painkillers may contain higher levels of opioids and other highly addictive substances, so you have to be careful when switching to these painkillers. You should not ask for these painkillers unless you are in considerable pain – getting addicted to this medication when you don’t physically need it could cause more harm in the long-run.


Retinol (also known as vitamin A) is typically applied to the skin as a serum or a cream. Over-the-counter retinol can help to reduce mild wrinkles and non-inflammatory acne. When treating acne, it is typically best to start with OTC medication.

Prescription retinol should only be used for more serious acne of rosacea that is very inflamed. This medication is stronger and is only available on prescription due to its higher risk of side effects including peeling, redness and dry skin. A doctor will usually be able to recommend when to move on to prescription retinol and when to stick with OTC retinol. 

Hearing aids

Many people don’t realize that you can buy over-the-counter hearing aids. These are generally cheaper, however they require you to adjust them yourself, which may result in poorer hearing quality. They are best suited only for those with mild hearing loss. 

Getting a prescription hearing aid from an audiologist could result in much sharper hearing. An audiologist can carry out a hearing test and finely tune your hearing aid to match your level of hearing loss. Custom-fitted hearing aids are also available by seeing an audiologist and getting a prescription.

Reading glasses

You can buy reading glasses without a prescription in many stores. These glasses can be quite cheap compared to those found in opticians. However, in order to get the right level of vision correction, you ideally need to know your prescription.

This is why everyone should start by seeing an optician and getting an eye test. From here you can work out the exact extent of your vision. Once you know your prescription, you can then buy glasses from the optician or shop elsewhere.

You cannot buy glasses or contact lenses for long-distance vision over the counter. This is because it could be unsafe if you bought the wrong glasses (especially if you drive). 

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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