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When you have a cold or the flu, you can be hit with a lot of symptoms at once—so getting safe cold and flu treatment is important. 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 Rx medicines. To be sure you’re using them safely, read the labels and take ONLY 1 medicine containing the same kind of active ingredient at a time.

Use Pain Relievers Safely

Take ONLY 1 medicine with the same kind of active ingredient (acetaminophen or NSAIDs) at a time.

Check your medicines! Safety tips for using OTC medicines for cold and flu

Take ONLY 1 medicine that contains acetaminophen at a time. Why?

Taking more than one increases your chances of taking too much (more than 4,000 mg in 24 hours), which could harm your liver.

These OTC medicine brands include cold/flu products that may contain acetaminophen:
  • Tylenol®

  • NyQuil®/DayQuil®

  • Mucinex®

  • Sudafed®

  • Theraflu®

  • Alka-Seltzer Plus®

Take ONLY 1 medicine that contains an NSAID* at a time. Why?

Taking more than one increases your chance of stomach bleeding and ulcers.

These OTC medicine brands include cold/flu products that may contain an NSAID:
  • Advil® Cold and Sinus

  • Dristan Sinus®

  • Aleve-D® Sinus & Cold

  • Alka-Seltzer Plus®

*NSAID = Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug

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

Many symptoms? Beware of too many meds

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

  • Medicines like pain relievers, sleep aids, and decongestants often contain the same ingredients

  • To avoid harmful side effects, take ONLY 1 medicine with the same kind of active ingredient at a time

Adult Dosing Directions

Directions for acetaminophen and NSAIDs—all in one place

Children's Pain Reliever Dosing Charts

Directions by weight and age for acetaminophen and NSAIDs