It has been found in a recent survey conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center that teens who have started to make more decisions about their own health care are still in the dark about OTC pain medications. Their minimal or a complete lack of knowledge in this regard could lead to complications due to inadvertent misuse.
During the study, the researchers surveyed almost 100 youngsters between 14 and 20 years old, and found that the average score on series of questions about knowledge of over-the-counter medication was 44 percent.
The survey revealed that more than 75 percent of the subjects had taken over-the-counter medications in the previous month.
"This tells health professionals that we need to teach our young people about safe use of over-the-counter pain medications," said Dr. Karen Wilson, senior instructor of Pediatrics and author of the abstract at the Pediatric Academic Society meeting in Baltimore.
The teens surveyed also reported that they most often took Tylenol and ibuprofen.
While 35 percent of the teens knew what acetaminophen was, 37 percent of them did not correctly identify acetaminophen and Tylenol as the same medication.
"Taken properly, acetaminophen is a safe and effective medication, but chronic misuse and overdoses can cause liver damage. Plus, they are in a lot of compound medications that include acetaminophen and ibuprofen, so it's easy to accidentally take a more than you should," Wilson said.