Prescription Drugs and Cold Medications

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Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Many over the counter substances are often purchased and used to help battle the everyday ailment of the common cold. Because of the various symptoms and discomforts associated with common colds and illnesses, over the counter products are accessed much more frequently and typically kept in most households for use.

Whether to manage sleep during sickness or help better deal with symptoms, over the counter medications can be helpful for a person who gets sick but is still attempting to get through their day or night.

Because over the counter cold medications are usually seen and identified as “safer” to the average consumer, it is not uncommon to mix these substances with other medications. As many Americans also regularly consume one or more prescription medications on a daily basis, mixing over-the-counter cold medications with prescription drugs can become an unintentional routine.

Even if only temporary while cold symptoms are present, the mixture of over the counter substances and prescription problems can become problematic for an individual, depending on the type of substances that may be interacting.

Get Medical Advice

If you are taking multiple prescription drugs and are in need of over the counter cold medications to help manage and deal with symptoms you are experiencing, be sure to ask you doctor about possible interactions between the substances.

Particular prescription medications, such as opioid based painkillers, tranquilizers, and sedative type substances should be closely screened for potential interactions with other cold medications that could be purchased over the counter.

family sitting on grassCold medications should also be stored correctly within your household and kept out of reach from children. Many cold medications may resemble candy by nature, which can give children the impression that these substances are okay to use and take. Keeping your over the counter cold medications locked away and out of reach can also help prevent potentially dangerous scenarios with these substances.

Remember that just because cold medications are more easily obtained from grocery stores, pharmacies, etc does not make them safer for use. Take the time to review any over the counter products and screen for potential interactions with prescription drugs you may be already taking.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What do you think are common misconceptions about over the counter cold medications?

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions and co-occurring disorders.  These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.  We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors.  If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.  

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 30th, 2015
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