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Over The Counter Medications

Choosing the Right Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicine for Your Symptoms*
Symptom Possible OTC Medications Generic Name Interactions with other meds Contraindications

Headache, Fever, Aches/Pains Tylenol acetaminophen isoniazid, Phenobarbital, phnytoin, zidovudine, sulfinpyrazone liver disease, hepatitis, alcohol abuse
  Advil (NSAID) [nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory], Motrin ibuprofen oral bisphosphonates, arthritis medications, blood thinners, corticosteroids, cyclosporine, drugs for high blood pressure, lithium, diuretics kidney disease, asthma, diabetes, stomach ulcers, esophageal problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, bleeding or clotting disorders, pregnancy
  Bayer (NSAID), Excedrin aspirin blood thinners, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, corticosteroids, high blood pressure drugs, SSRI antidepressants, diuretics, recent live vaccines liver disease, ulcers or other stomach problems, bleeding or clotting disorders, asthma, anemia, untreated hyperthyroidism, pregnancy
  Aleve (NSAID) aproxen sodium anti-platelet drugs, oral bisphosphonates, blood thinners, corticosteroids, cyclosporine, high blood pressure drugs, lithium, SSRI antidepressants, diuretics kidney disease, liver disease, stomach/intestine/esophageal problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, blood disorders, bleeding or clotting problems, pregnancy

Indigestion, Heartburn Pepto-Bismol bismuth subsalicylate aspirin, blood thinners, tetracycline antibiotics, medication for diabetes pregnant, nursing
  Pepcid AC famotidine H-2 antaganoists, azole antifungals immune system problems, kidney disease, liver disease, asthma, lung disorders, stomach problems
  Tums calcium carbonate vitamins, tetracycline, quinolone antibiotics, gallium nitrate, cellulose sodium phosphate, etidronate, magnesium sulfate, phenytoin,, large amounts of bread or whole grains, alcohol, caffeine, tobacco smoking diarrhea, parathyroid disease, lung disease, kidney stones
  Prilosec OTC Omeprazole Alters absorption of medications needing acid pH (ketaconazole, digoxin), diazepam, warfarin  
  Mylanta Aluminum & magnesium hydroxide Not to be taken with meds that require acidic stomach  
  Zantac ranitidine H-2 antagonists, ketoconazole, itraconazole, metoprolol, triazolam porphyria, kidney problems, liver problems

Diarrhea Ka-Pec attapulgite aluminum salts/selected chelation agents, di-trivalent cations/tetracyclines, sucralfate, aluminum compounds, thyroid preparations heart disease, pregnancy
  Pepto Bismol (Also good to prevent traveler's diarrhea) bismuth subsalicylate aspirin, blood thinners, tetracycline antibiotics, medication for diabetes pregnant, nursing
  Imodium loperamide cholestyramine, quinidine, ritonavir, saquinavir, loperamide liver problems, acute ulcerative colitis, stomach/intestinal infections

Constipation Dulcolax tablets bisacodyl Antacids, milk Do not repeat if no bowel movement within 12 hours of taking dulcolax.
  Colace docusate sodium other laxatives/softeners nausea, vomiting, stomach pain; megacolon, signs of appendicitis

Allergies Benadryl diphenhydramine MAO inhibitors, antispasmodics, drugs for Parkinson's disease, scopolamine, tricyclic antidepressants asthma, emphysema, glaucoma, heart problems, high blood pressure, liver disease, seizures, overactive thyroid, difficulty urinating
  Chlor-hist chlorpheniramine MAO inhibitors, antispasmodics, drugs for Parkinson’s disease, scopolamine, tricyclic antidepressants asthma, emphysema, glaucoma, heart problems, high blood pressure, liver disease, seizures, overactive thyroid, urination problems
  Tavist clemastine antispasmodics, anticholinergics, MAO inhibitors, drugs that cause drowsiness asthma, emphysema, glaucoma, heart problems, high blood pressure, liver disease, seizures, overactive thyroid, urination problems
  Claritin loratadine cough-and-cold products that also contain antihistamines, alcohol kidney disease, liver disease, breast feeding

Cold** Tylenol Cold acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, guaifenesin, phenylephrine See chart for acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and quaifenesin. Phenylephrine – MAO inhibitors See chart for acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and quaifenesin. Phenylephrine – high blood pressure, diabetes, difficulty urinating, thyroid disease, heart disease
  Sudafed PE acetaminophen, diphenhydramine, phenylephrine See chart for acetaminophen and diphenhydramine. Phenylephrine – MAO inhibitors See chart for acetaminophen and diphenhydramine. Phenylephrine – MAO inhibitors
  Theraflu acetaminophen, phenylephrine See chart for acetaminophen. Phenylephrine – MAO inhibitors  
  Nyquil acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, doxylamine & pseudoephredrine Avoid other cold medicines with same ingredients. Other brand names include Alka Seltzer Cold, Robitussing Night cold, Tylenol Flu Nighttime MAO inhibitors within 14 days, isoniazid, dilantin, zidovudine, celebrex.

Cough Robitussin, Vicks 44 Cough Relief dextromethorphan MAO inhibitors, butramine, memantine asthma, emphysema
  Mucinex DM guaifenesin cough-and-cold products that also contain guaifenesin emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, productive coughs, diabetes, alcohol dependence, liver disease

Fungal skin infections Tinactin tolnaftate To treat skin infections, not nails pregnancy
  Lamisil AT terbinafine To treat skin infections, not nails pregnancy

Sleep Benadryl-see Allergies above brand names-sleepinal, sominex, unisom    

* This is not a complete list of drugs for each symptom, interactions, or contraindications. Read labels carefully to determine the right medication to treat your symptoms. Contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you are unsure about a drug.

** The medication that you choose for colds should depend on the symptoms that you have. The above drug names are common for cold treatment, but read the label carefully to ensure that you are choosing the medication that treats only the symptoms you have.