Cold medicine confusion

December 01, 2017 06:40 AM

(NBC News) With cold and flu season approaching, Consumer Reports has published a primer on over-the-counter product labels to help consumers find the best medicines for their symptoms.

If you have a nasty cough, an "expectorant" will encourage you to cough more to get rid of extra phlegm and mucus, while a "suppressant" will block the cough reflex for coughs that are more annoying.

But watch for the pain reliever "acetaminophen" if you're looking at "multi-symptom" products. Too much acetaminophen can cause liver damage.

"Acetaminophen shows up in all of these different products, sometimes when you don't really even need it. It's easy to get too much of it, and that's something that we were really concerned about," said Lisa Gill from Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports says anything labeled "severe" suggests the manufacturer added an extra ingredient, so a detailed read of the label is a good idea.

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