Yet, of course, they come with risks - many of which we've written about before. One potential side-effect we hadn't come across before is cognitive decline. Apparently, some types of over the counter medicines can actually damage the brain - at least in senior African Americans.
A six year study looked at over 1,500 African Americans over the age of 70 who were taking anticholinergics (these include Exedrin PM, Sominex, Tylenol PM, Nytrol, Benadryl and Dramamine). At the start of the study, the participants had normal cognitive function.
After considering variables such as age, gender, education and baseline cognitive performance, researchers found that those taking anticholinergics were at an increased risk of cognitive decline by a factor of 1.46.
This just goes to show that just because a medicine is available over the counter, it doesn't mean that it comes without risks.
Last updated: July 26, 2012