Best Cold & Flu Medicine Without Acetaminophen

More than 60 million Americans consume acetaminophen on a weekly basis, yet many are unaware of the dangerous side effects and risks associated with this common pain reliever.1 According to a 2020 study, acetaminophen is responsible for an estimated 500 deaths and 50,000 emergency department visits in the United States each year.2 It is the most common drug-related cause of acute liver failure. Nonetheless, it is one of the most widely used drugs, contained within 600 different medications, including prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers, fever reducers, sleep aids, as well as cough, cold, and allergy medicines.3 Before using acetaminophen the next time you feel ill, find out how the drug works, possible side effects worth knowing about, and how to find cold and flu medications that do not contain acetaminophen.

What is Acetaminophen?

Often known as Tylenol or other brand names, acetaminophen is classified as an analgesic (pain reliever) and fever reducer. It is typically used to relieve minor aches and pains due to headaches, toothaches, muscular aches, backaches, arthritis, the common cold, and fevers. Acetaminophen works by raising the body’s pain threshold and by cooling the body.  Unlike aspirin and ibuprofen, which are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen does not relieve inflammation, which makes the drug a more appealing choice for those with sensitive stomachs, ulcers, or high blood pressure. 

Side Effects of Acetaminophen

Though acetaminophen is less likely to irritate the stomach than NSAIDs, the drug does carry its own risks and side effects when used in excess or when the recommended dose is exceeded.  The most common adverse reactions include:4 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Constipation
Those with allergies or sensitivities to acetaminophen may also experience rare side effects. These include: 
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
If a user exceeds the recommended dose, acetaminophen may also cause more serious reactions. One of these is liver damage. Some signs that you may have exceeded your dose and caused liver toxicity include:5
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Persistent nausea
  • Excessive vomiting
  • A general sense of feeling unwell
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors

Cold & Flu Medicine Without Acetaminophen

Many people choose to treat their colds or flus with multi-symptom medications or more than one medication to address all their ailments, but this is discouraged. Since so many of these medicines contain acetaminophen, the risk of exceeding the recommended dosage is high. Choosing a cold and flu medication without acetaminophen is the safest choice, but many OTC medications are a combination of multiple synthetic medications that suppress your systems and can have harmful side effects. 
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OTC cough medicines are a popular choice if you’re suffering from a wet or dry cough, but keep in mind that some of these medications come with side effects if they include the chemicals dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, or guaifenesin, an expectorant. These include upset stomach, drowsiness, and dizziness. Even more, some studies show that there is no evidence that over-the-counter cold and flu medicines actually suppress or stop coughing when compared to placebo.6 Some people choose to treat nasal congestion with antihistamines or decongestants that do not include acetaminophen, which work to relieve inflammation in the nasal passages. However, antihistamines are usually harsh on your systems because they are trying to work against what your body is trying to do, which is release fluids and cause inflammation. Also, some of these drugs that contain the synthetic chemicals pseudoephedrine or cetrizine may cause drowsiness, dry mouth, and fatigue.  Homeopathic remedies are another acetaminophen-free route to reducing symptoms of colds and flus, but not all homeopathic remedies are the same. For instance, the popular OTC medication oscillococcinum claims to shorten the duration of illness when it is taken at the first sign of symptoms, though there are mixed results in clinical studies. Side effects associated with this homeopathic remedy include angioedema, an allergic reaction characterized by swelling under the skin, and headache.

Benefits of Brillia Health vs Other Over The Counter Cold/Flu Medications

Using targeted antibodies in lieu of synthetic chemicals, Brillia Health products are uniquely formulated to relieve symptoms associated with the cold or flu while shortening the duration of illness and supporting your body’s natural immune response. Brillia Health’s chemical-free products cause no harmful side effects, no contraindications, and are safe for children as young as one as well as adults.  The active ingredients in Brillia Health’s Cold-Flu Recovery product target symptoms by controlling the body’s histamine response, reducing fluid buildup, congestion, and inflammation; boosting CD4, to support immunity; and activating gamma-Interferon, recruiting more immune cells to attack the virus and help your body heal faster.  If you are also suffering from a cough, Brillia Health’s Cough Control uses targeted antibodies to reduce fluid buildup, ease the cough reflex, and relieve the discomfort that coughing places on your body. All of this is achieved at the source of symptoms, so that no other systems in your body are affected. 
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Find out more about how Brillia Health products work and visit our blog to find more resources on how to support your immune system, ease cold and flu symptoms naturally, and achieve whole-body health. Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a certificate in Narrative Therapy. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.
References: 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441917/, 2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482369/, 3https://www.chpa.org/our-issues/otc-medicines/acetaminophen, 4https://www.drugs.com/sfx/acetaminophen-side-effects.html, 5https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acute-liver-failure/symptoms-causes/syc-20352863, 6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1325161

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