Acetaminophen is the active ingredient and also the generic form of Tylenol. It helps relieve pain and fever. Acetaminophen can also be found inside hundreds of other OTC medicines for various ailments, such as those for cold and flu.
Ibuprofen is the active ingredient and also the generic version of Advil. It works by blocking the production of substances in the body that cause fever, inflammation, and pain — whether that means stiff joints or headaches.
Nonspecific autoimmune drugsNeuro-spinal anti-inflammatory drugsNonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugsNeurological serotonin auto-intake drugs
NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help relieve fever and pain and can reduce swelling from muscle strains or arthritis. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen (Aleve).
IbuprofenAcetaminophenEither ibuprofen or acetaminophenNeither — both are safe to mix with alcohol.
It isn't safe to mix alcohol with ibuprofen or acetaminophen!
Mixing alcohol with either of these OTC pain medications — or even drugs that just contain these, like cold meds — can negatively affect your health. For example, mixing alcohol with acetaminophen can cause serious liver damage. Likewise, the FDA says that your risk for stomach bleeding will go up if you're taking ibuprofen or other NSAIDs and have more than three drinks a day. So just don't do it.
They treat pain caused by muscle cramps.They treat allergy symptoms like runny nose, hives, or itchy eyes.They treat acid reflux and heartburn.They treat dehydration due to diarrhea or vomiting.
Antihistamines treat allergy symptoms.
Antihistamines help to relieve symptoms of allergies or allergic reactions, such as congestion, runny nose, sneezing, hives, and itchy or watery eyes. They work by blocking the production of histamines, which our body releases in response to an allergen. Antihistamines are classified as either first-generation (which cause drowsiness) or second-generation, which are nondrowsy, so they can be taken whenever your allergies are acting up.
Doxylamine is not taken to relieve pain.
Doxylamine is a first-generation antihistamine used to treat allergies. All the others can be taken to relieve pain, although each of them works differently to do so. Aspirin can also be taken in low doses each day to prevent heart attack and stroke.
Immodium can help control severe diarrhea.
Immodium contains loperamide, which can treat symptoms of acute diarrhea or travelers' diarrhea. You usually take it after each instance of diarrhea, and it works by slowing down your bowel movements. It's best for short-term use or occasional episodes. It isn't used to treat chronic diarrhea from intestinal disorders (those require prescription meds), and it also isn't meant for anyone who has constipation problems.
Bisacodyl is not a sleep aid!
Bisacodyl is a laxative that works in the bowel to relieve constipation. Melatonin is a synthetic hormone that helps control your sleep cycle and Unisom is the brand name for the generic medicine doxylamine succinate (also ZzzQuil), which is an antihistamine used to treat short-term insomnia.
It loosens stools to relieve constipationIt thins mucus to relieve chest congestionIt relieves pain caused by menstrual crampsIt reduces swelling in the nasal passages
Guaifenesin thins mucus to relieve chest congestion.
Guaifenesin (Mucinex, Tussin) is in a class of OTC drugs called "expectorants," which help relieve chest congestion by thinning the trapped mucus so that it's easier to cough it up and clear the airways. Guaifenesin only helps control the symptoms of congestion but it doesn't treat the underlying cause, which could be a cold, virus, flu, or allergies.
Relieve muscle crampsRelieve itchy, watery eyesRelieve heartburnRelieve diarrhea
Antacids relieve heartburn.
Antacids (Tums, Rolaids, Mylanta) are used to help relieve heartburn or sour stomach caused by indigestion. They can be taken in chewable tablet, pill, or liquid form, and work by neutralizing stomach acid and balancing the gastric pH to reduce heartburn. Some antacids contain ingredients that can actually cause diarrhea, such as magnesium.
Clotrimazole helps treat athlete's foot.
Clotrimazole is an antifungal medication used to treat yeast infections in the skin, like athlete's foot, jock itch, and ringworm, as well as yeast infections in the vagina or mouth (thrush). It's usually sold as a cream, which you apply to the skin for several weeks until the fungus is killed.
Relieves pain due to menstrual cramps.Relieves itching caused by fungal infections.Relieves canker sores in the mouth.Relieves sneezing and congestion from allergies.None of the above
Flonase relieves sneezing and congestion from allergies.
Flonase, generically known as fluticasone, is a nasal spray that treats symptoms of allergies or hay fever like sneezing and an itchy, runny, or stuffy nose. Flonase is in a class of drugs called corticosteroids, which act like our body's steroid hormones to block substances that cause allergy symptoms and inflammation.
Dextromethorphan is used to relieve coughing.
Dextromethorphan (Delsym, Robitussin) is used to temporarily suppress or relieve coughing. It's in a class of drugs called antitussives, and it works by decreasing activity in the area of the brain that causes coughing. It only treats coughing as a symptom and it does not treat the underlying condition such as the common cold, flu, or allergies.
EnfalytePostafenCromolyn sodiumBismuth subsalicylate
Bismuth subsalicylate treats these upset stomach symptoms.
Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate) is used to temporarily relieve indigestion, upset stomach, mild diarrhea, and heartburn. It's an antidiarrheal agent that works by reducing inflammation in the intestines, decreasing the amount of fluids flowing into the bowels, and sometimes, by killing the bacteria that causes diarrhea. You can take it in liquid, pill, or chewable tablet form.
You'd take Benadryl to treat the symptoms of an allergic reaction!
Benadryl contains the active ingredient diphenhydramine, which can help relieve sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and airway irritation that arises from allergies or a cold. Benadryl can relieve allergy symptoms but it does not treat the underlying allergy. It's a first-generation antihistamine, so it causes drowsiness and can also be used to treat insomnia.
AlavertClaritinZyrtecAllegraAll of the above
All of these medicines are nondrowsy.
Alavert and Claratin contain the active ingredient loratadine, Zyrtec contains cetirizine, and Allegra contains fexofenadine. All of these block histamines, which cause allergy symptoms such as runny nose, hives, or itchy eyes. But they are all second-generation antihistamines, so they do not cause drowsiness and can be taken daily to prevent seasonal allergies.
Fungal skin infectionsAcid reflux and heartburnBacterial pink eye (conjunctivitis)Sinus congestion
Pseudoephedrine is used for sinus congestion.
Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) can help relieve nasal congestion and sinus pressure caused by colds or allergies. It's in a class of drugs called nasal decongestants, which work by narrowing the blood vessels in the nasal passages to reduce inflammation and congestion. It can help symptoms but it does not treat the underlying conditions that cause sinus problems.
Simethicone is used to treat bloating and gas.
Simethicone (Mylanta Gas, Phazyme) is used to temporarily treat discomfort, bloating, and pressure caused by excess gas in the stomach or intestines. It's an anti-foaming agent that works by combining small gas bubbles in the stomach into bigger ones so that the gas is easily passed through farts. Simethicone only helps gas leave the body — it does not prevent the formation of gas in the digestive tract, which can happen from allergies, overeating, or other conditions.
Dramamine is used to help motion sickness.
Dramamine, or the generic dimenhydrinate, is used to treat or prevent symptoms of motion sickness, such as nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. It's an antihistamine and it works by preventing problems with your body's balance. It can cause drowsiness, so read the warning label before taking.
This is false.
There is no universal expiration date for over-the-counter pills. Every individual bottle or packet of pills is printed with its own expiration date on the label. Always make sure to read the labels carefully and pay attention to expiration dates on your medication.