Millions of Americans purchase over the counter cold medication to control the symptoms of stuffy nose and a dry cough. However, these OTC medications are not without their precautions. This blog will cover some of the most common OTC cold preparations and what are the caveats before using these not so harmless drugs.
Acetaminophen and liver damage. Acetaminophen, which is found in Tylenol, which can suppress a headache can be associated with fatal liver damage. The maximum safe daily dose is 3000 milligrams. If you use large quantities of acetaminophen, stay away from alcohol. Also take the lowest dose that brings relief. Also many medications contain acetaminophen, so you may be taking more than you realize.
Ibuprofen, ulcers, kidney problems. Ibuprofen, which is in Advil and Motrin, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that relieves mild aches and pains. Ibuprofen increases the risk for a a heart attack or stroke, especially if you already h ave heart disease or high blood pressure, you smoke, you have diabetes or you use it long term. If you use ibuprophen, avoid alcoholic beverages. Call your doctor if develop blood or black stools; if you experience changes in the frequency of urination; or if you have problems walking or with your vision or speech.
Decongestants and high blood pressure. Decongestants found in Triaminic, Afrin nasal spray and Dimetapp Cold Drops relieve nasal congestion by reducing swelling and constricting blood vessels in the nose, allowing you to breathe more easily. These decongestants may cause blood pressure to spike and interfere with the effectiveness of prescription medication to control blood pressure. If you have a heart condition, high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma or an overactive thyroid, speak to your doctor before using decongestants.
Antihistamines and falls. Antihistamines found in Benedryl and Chlor-Trimeton, can relieve the symptoms of runny nose. However, they make users sleepy and contribute to falls and hip fractures especially in the elderly. If you have glaucoma, an enlarged prostate gland, breathing problems, high blood pressure or heart disease, you may have worsening of symptoms and probably should avoid antihistamines.
Combination medications and heart problems. OTC combinations of acetaminophen with the decongestant phenylephrine (Contac) can bring on irrgullarg heartbeat, high blood pressure and tremors. I suggest that you use a single ingredient medication.
Bottom Line: Many OTC medications are safe if used properly and with precaution in men and women who have certain conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, prostate gland problems, or glaucoma, these medications are probably safe.