Check the Ingredients!

Check the Ingredients!

It’s easy for the eyes to glaze over when looking at the long words listed in the ingredients of cough and cold medications. Learning to recognize a few words, though, is an important skill to learn (and not that difficult). It may save your life.

An advisory committee of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that a common ingredient be reclassified as unsafe, because it has been shown to cause devastating strokes in a small but significant number of people — especially young women age 18-49 — sometimes from taking the drug only once.

The ingredient is phenylpropanolamine (PPA), still found in many common over-the-counter cold remedies and appetite suppressants. You probably have it in your home. When an oral medicine contains a decongestant, it will likely list either phenylpropanolamine or pseudoephedrine. While most people who take phenylpropanolamine have no problems, pseudoephedrine is both safer and more effective.

Learn to distinguish between the two.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

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