Merck Manual

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Chronic Disorders and Over-the-Counter Drugs

Chronic Disorders and Over-the-Counter Drugs

Disorder

OTC Drugs

Precautions

Cold remedies

Recovering alcoholics need to be vigilant about avoiding any products that contain alcohol, including cold remedies. Some products contain as much as 25% alcohol.

Decongestants

People with diabetes should consult a doctor before they take decongestants because these drugs can worsen diabetes and have dangerous side effects.

Cough syrups

People with diabetes may need help locating liquid products that do not contain sugar, cough syrups included.

Antihistamines

Decongestants

People with an enlarged prostate should consult a doctor or pharmacist before they take antihistamines and decongestants because side effects can be dangerous.

Antihistamines

Decongestants

Taking an antihistamine or decongestant can complicate certain types of glaucoma.

Heart disease

Antacids

Cold remedies

Analgesics

People with heart disease should consult a doctor or pharmacist to help them select an antacid or cold remedy that does not interact with their prescription drugs. Certain analgesics such as NSAIDs may worsen heart failure.

Decongestants

People with heart disease should consult a doctor or pharmacist before they take decongestants because side effects can be dangerous.

High blood pressure (hypertension)

Analgesics

Antacids

People with high blood pressure should consult a doctor or pharmacist before they select an analgesic or antacid.

Decongestants

People with high blood pressure should consult a doctor or pharmacist before they take decongestants because side effects can be dangerous.

Hyperthyroidism (over activity of the thyroid gland)

Decongestants

People with hyperthyroidism should consult a doctor or pharmacist before they take decongestants because side effects can be dangerous.

Kidney disorders

Antacids

NSAIDs

People with kidney disorders should consult a doctor or pharmacist before they select an antacid or use an NSAID.

NSAIDs = nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; OTC = over-the-counter.