Microsoft word - colds (upper respiratory infection) handout (1360_0).doc

Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medications for the Relief of Upper Respiratory Infections Available at Student Health Service
Remember: These are not "cures" for URI’s! Take only the manufacturer's recommended dose - read the label!! The basic medications include analgesics,
antihistamines, decongestants, expectorants, cough suppressants, & throat sprays or lozenges. Generic products are cheaper and are equally effective as brand
name medications.
OTC Medication Type:
Used For:
Side Effects & Other Important Information
Analgesic -

Side Effects
: stomach irritation, bleeding, ulcers; decreases blood clotting ability. Sign
headache, sore throat, and/or for of overdose is ringing in ears. Don't use with alcohol (may increase stomach irritation) or if you have ulcers, bleeding problems, or are scheduled for surgery/childbirth. May increase wheezing in asthmatics. Slight risk of Reye Syndrome (acute liver disease/coma) in persons under 18 years of age. DO NOT TAKE with flu symptoms or chicken pox. Take with food or milk to decrease stomach irritation. Side Effects : none. Least risk of Reye Syndrome. Overdose can cause permanent
liver damage. Consult a medical practitioner regarding use if you have any kind of liver disease, including that caused by alcohol.
Side Effects: stomach irritation (less than aspirin). Don't use if allergic to aspirin or
Ibuprofen ("Advil", "Motrin") experience same side effects as aspirin. Antihistamine -
relieving allergy symptoms such as Side Effects: drowsy, sleepy, dizzy/spacey. Has a "drying" effect on mucus
watery membranes, which can aggravate bronchitis, asthma, and sinus or ear congestion. Do not combine with alcohol or with driving/operating machinery. Claritin is least likely to cause drowsiness and is cheapest at Costco under the name, ‘AllerClear’ by Kirkland. Decongestant -
Side Effects: nervous, restless, "hyper". Do not use if you have high blood pressure,
heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease. If you have trouble falling asleep: reduce dosage, use a combination product with an antihistamine, use drops or sprays, or discontinue use. Drops & sprays provide faster relief, but the effect is usually shorter. Repeated use of drops & sprays for greater than 3 days may lead to "rebound effect", where congestion comes back even worse. Expectorant -
A medical practitioner needs to evaluate any cough that lasts longer than 7 days or is accompanied by yellowish, dark sputum, blood, or a fever. A medical practitioner needs to evaluate any cough that lasts longer than 7 days or is Suppressant/Antitussive -
accompanied by yellowish, dark sputum, blood, or a fever. We carry sugar free cough drops and alcohol free cough meds.

Throat Sprays/Lozenges -
Do not "mask" the severity of a sore throat by constantly "numbing" it with sprays. See a medical practitioner if soreness is severe or you have a history of strep throat.
Combination products
usually contain from 2 to 7 or even more different types of drugs. They can include any or all of the cold/allergy OTC's described above
in addition to Vitamin C, caffeine &/or alcohol. Some of these combinations have too little of each drug to be effective. In addition, these combinations can be
expensive, unnecessary &/or many of the included ingredients have doubtful value. (It is recommended to take single drug products vs. combination products
Original Creation Date: 05/01/2005, PPM Approval Date: 01/24/2013


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