Consumer Reports: decoding over-the-counter flu, cold meds - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Consumer Reports: decoding over-the-counter flu, cold meds

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC TV) - It's one of the worst flu seasons in years, but when you go to the drugstore for some relief, sorting through all of the options can make your headache worse.

Consumer Reports has advice on over-the-counter medications for the flu and other ailments. The problem is claims such as "extra strength," "maximum strength" and "ultra
strength" on labels have no standard definition.

Take "ultra-strength" Tums. It has 100 percent more of its active ingredient than the
regular version. But Gas-X ultra-strength has 125 percent more of its active ingredient. You really have to read the label in order to know how much you're taking.

Claims like "all day" and "long-acting" are tricky, too. All-Day Aleve lasts half a day: up to 12 hours. But some "all-day" medicines do last 24 hours.

Drugs that say "PM" or "non-drowsy" can be confusing also. If the label says "PM," the
drug should contain an antihistamine that'll help you fall asleep. But if the label says
"non-drowsy," don't assume the drug will help you stay alert. Only a few have caffeine
or another stimulant that'll keep you awake.

With drugs that claim to relieve multiple symptoms, such as cold and flu symptoms
and sore throat, you could end up taking something you don't need. They often have
more than one ingredient, sometimes as many as four. So if you also take another
medicine that contains one of those ingredients, you might wind up taking too much.

Consumer Reports said you should choose a single-ingredient drug whenever you can,
such as ibuprofen for aches and pains or acetaminophen for a fever or headache.

When in doubt, ask your pharmacist for help in understanding over-the-counter
drug labels.

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