Do You Know What’s In Your Medicine?

Medications are made up of active and inactive ingredients. Inactive ingredients are usually binding agents, dyes, preservatives and coloring, and do not increase the effect of the actual drug.  The active ingredient identifies the chemical in the medicine that makes it work.

Here are some common active ingredients:

  • Antihistamines

This group of ingredients works to reduce allergic symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, itchy nose and throat, runny nose and other symptoms caused by the common cold. They also help stop travel sickness, control anxiety, and may help you get to sleep.

There are two forms of antihistamines: sedating and non-sedating.  Sedating antihistamines cause drowsiness. Some examples are:

  • Chlorphenamine
  • Doxylamine
  • Triprolidine

Non-sedating antihistamines do not cause drowsiness. Here are some examples:

  • Acrivastine
  • Bilastine
  • Cetirizine
  • Desloratadine
  • Cough Suppressants

This active ingredient acts on the cough center of the brain to suppress dry coughs. Examples are:

  • Dextromethorphan
  • Pholcodine
  • Nasal Decongestants

Nasal decongestants clear blocked noses caused by colds, flu, sinusitis, hay fever or other allergies. Some examples are:

  • Oxymetazoline
  • Phenylephrine
  • Xylometazoline
  • Expectorants

This active ingredient thins and loosens mucus to help relieve chest congestion. An example is:

  • Guaifenesin

Of course, there are many more active ingredients out there. Knowing the active ingredients in OTC medication will help you find the medicine that’s right for you. It can also help you compare big brands to store brands. Always be careful when buying OTC medications, and consult your doctor if you may have allergies to any active or inactive ingredients.

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