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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.


    Many stores have their own generic brands of medicines. Check with your pharmacist or health care provider before using any over-the-counter and generic medicines. This includes products labeled as herbals. 

    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:

    • 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®)