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Over-the-counter medicines

  • Read the labels of all over-the-counter medicines you take. Ask your pharmacist or health care provider if they are safe for you.


    Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any herbal medicines.

    Caution: Many stores have their own generic brands of the below medicines. Check with your pharmacist or health care provider before using any over-the-counter and generic medicines.

    The safest cough and cold medicines for you are:

    • chlorepheniramine (Chlortrimeton® or AllerChlor®)
    • guaifenesin with dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM®)
    • loratadine (Claritin®).

    Cough and cold medicines you should not take:


    Phenylpropanolamine has been banned. This ingredient was found in cold medicines. Please throw away any medicines that contain this ingredient.

    • pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®, Actifed®, Contrex® and Nyquil®)
    • phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine®)
    • ephedrine (also known as "ma huang") or any kind of appetite suppressant (such as Metabolife®).

    Sodium causes your body to retain fluid. This increases your blood pressure and makes your heart work harder.

    The following medicines are high in sodium:

    • Vicks 44® Cough Syrup, Vicks 44® Cough Relief
    • Alka-Seltzer®
    • Fleets® Phospho-Soda and Fleets® enema.

    The following medicines may cause you to retain sodium and fluid:

    • ibuprofen (Nuprin®, Advil®, Motrin® and many brands)
    • ketoprofen (Orudis KT®, Actron®)
    • naproxen (Aleve®)
    • glucocorticoids: prednisone (Deltasone®) and methylprednisolone (Medrol Dose Pak®)
    • cox II inhibitors (Celebrex®).

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