Not to be dramatic, but this flu season is officially TERRIBLE. Although it’s not the worst flu season ever, it’s still one of the worst flus in a few years, with the potential to become the worst flu in a decade in particularly hard-hit places like California. The number of people reporting flu symptoms has hit record highs in some places, meaning it’s only a matter of time until you start feeling icky and flu-y. Maybe you already do!
But before you start chugging your syrupy, yellow, extra-strength cold and flu medicine, take a second to look at the label. There’s probably a box on the back labeled “Drug Facts” and inside is probably a list of really scientific sounding things called “Active Ingredients” – AKA the stuff that makes you feel better when you’re sick. Did you know that active ingredients usually make up only 15% of the medicine you’re about to ingest? Don’t you want to know what makes up the other 85%?
Don’t you want to know what makes up the other 85%?
Look down near the bottom of the Drug Facts panel and find the list labeled “Inactive Ingredients.” Those are the ingredients that make up the majority of what you’re taking when you take flu medicine. You might know what some of them are, you might not. If you don’t know all of them, here’s a short list of some of the most ew-worthy ingredients you can see pop up in your cold and flu medicines:
Many shampoos, lotions, and other cosmetics have come under fire recently when people started realizing they contained parabens, or a type of preservative, which are used to prevent the growth of microbes. Parabens can be quickly absorbed into your skin, blood, and digestive system – which is a problem, since parabens may be seriously toxic. However, what most people don’t realize is that those shiny medicine capsules you take when you have the flu are made with the exact same chemical preservatives that shouldn’t even be in going in your hair. If you don’t want it on your body, you probably don’t want it in your body, either.
This one’s kind of a big deal, considering a little something known as the opioid epidemic which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the past few years alone. It’s become such a problem that the FDA has begun to put serious scrutiny on medicines containing opioids as well as the doctors who prescribe them. Most recently, the FDA ruled that prescription cough and cold medicine containing opioids could no longer be recommended for children. This makes us wonder why kids were allowed to take opioids in the first place, when studies show opioid dependency can start at very young ages. However, the new FDA rule doesn’t extend to over-the-counter cold and flu medicines, which (as the FDA warns) could just as likely contain opioids as well.
It’s fairly common for medicines meant to treat coughs (including cold and flu medicines) to contain alcohol. Alcohol isn’t inherently bad and has been used to help soothe cough and cold symptoms for decades; however, almost everyone is aware of the potential dangers of overconsuming alcohol, especially among minors. Some medicines and even supplements can contain unusually high amounts of alcohol – as much as you’d find in a 24-proof alcoholic beverage! Parents should be especially aware of the potential presence of alcohol in their children’s medicines, and those with alcohol aversions due to medical needs or personal choice should always check their medicine labels beforehand just to be safe.
This is definitely not a comprehensive list of the gross ingredients you may find in your medicines. Despite the fact that you take your medicine to get better, your medicine might be making you sicker! Everything from artificial dyes, to glues, to gluten and animal byproducts could be present in your cold and flu medicines without you even knowing it. Always check your labels to make sure you’re giving yourself and your family only the best medicines with the healthiest ingredients.
At Genexa, we believe medicines should be unquestionably good for you, with no potentially toxic or harmful ingredients. Our Cold Crush, Cold Crush for Kids, and Flu Fix medicines are all free of parabens, opioids, alcohol, and all the other yucky ingredients you’ll find in other products. Make sure you subscribe to our email list for more informative content like this and for other tips like this about how to keep your family healthy this flu season!