Health Watch -- The Cold Season: Cold Medicine

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about colds and cold weather. Previously, we had some tips for preventing colds, but if you do get sick, doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center say you need to be careful about the medicine you take to fight the illness.

One of the main ingredients in many pain relievers and cold medicines is acetaminophen. This drug can cause serious liver damage when taken in large doses over a long period of time. Dr. William Lee, an expert on liver diseases at UT Southwestern, says it’s easy to take too much acetaminophen when you’re taking a lot of medicine for all your cold and flu symptoms. If you take a pain reliever and fever reducer such as Tylenol along with a multi-symptom cold medicine, you could easily take more than the recommended dose. And if you combine these drugs with alcohol, the effects are intensified. Be sure to read ingredient labels before combining medications.


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January 2007

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