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When you have a cold or the flu, you can be hit with a lot of symptoms at once—and all you want is relief. If you take over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu medicines, keep in mind that many of them share the same ingredients with each other and with other OTC and prescription medicines. To be sure you’re using them responsibly, read the labels and take ONLY 1 medicine containing the same kind of active ingredient at a time.

OTC Pain Relievers for You

It may depend on your age, health conditions and other medications you may be currently taking.

Check your medicines! Tips for using OTC medicines for cold and flu symptoms

Take ONLY 1 product with a cough/cold or pain/fever ingredient at a time. Why?

Acetaminophen: Is in many cold/cough/flu/sinus products. Taking more than one or combining with other pain medicines increases your chances of taking too much (more than 4,000 mg in a day), which could harm your liver.

Cold/Cough/Flu/Sinus Ingredients: It can also be harmful to exceed the single and daily dose of these ingredients. Always read and follow the labels to understand what is in your medicines.

Cold and Flu Medicines
These are examples of OTC cold/cough/flu/sinus medicine brands that may contain acetaminophen:
  • Any TYLENOL® product even if it is for colds, cough, flu or sinus

  • BENYLIN®

  • Vicks® NyQuil®/DayQuil®

  • SUDAFED®

  • SINUTAB®

  • Robitussin®

  • Dristan® Sinus

NSAIDs: NSAIDs like ibuprofen can be in many cold/cough/flu/sinus products. Taking more than one or combining with other pain medicines can increase your chances of stomach bleeding or ulcers.

NSAIDs List
These are examples of OTC cold/cough/flu/sinus medicine brands may contain an NSAID:
  • Any Advil® product even if it is for colds, cough, flu or sinus

  • SUDAFED SINUS ADVANCE®

*NSAID = Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug

The third party trademarks used herein are trademarks of their respective owners.

Many symptoms? Beware of too many medications.

Colds or the flu can mean lots of symptoms—headache, cough, congestion, muscle aches, and more. But if you think you need more than one medicine, STOP and think twice:

  • Medicines like cold/cough/flu/sinus products, pain relievers, sleep aids, and decongestants often contain the same ingredients

  • To avoid harmful side effects from taking more than the single or maximum daily dose, take ONLY 1 medicine with the same kind of medicinal ingredient at a time