(StatePoint) During cold and flu season, an ounce of prevention goes a long way. But despite best efforts, getting sick is sometimes unavoidable.
This year, Americans will suffer from approximately one billion colds, and as many as one in five will get the flu.
Many people turn to over-the-counter medicines (OTC) for relief from their cold and flu symptoms. When illness strikes, treating your symptoms safely and responsibly is just as important as relief.
During this cold and flu season, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the maker of Tylenol, is educating consumers about the safe and appropriate use of medicines through its educational initiative “Get Relief Responsibly.”
Many cold and flu medicines contain acetaminophen, a common pain reliever used to provide relief from their cold and flu symptoms such as fever, sore throat, and body pains.
Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol but it can also be found in more than 600 OTC and prescription medications such as NyQuil, Theraflu, Percocet and Vicodin.
If you take multiple medicines at a time to treat various symptoms, it is important to be aware of the ingredients and to follow labels to prevent accidentally taking more than the recommended dose.
“Acetaminophen is safe when used as directed, but taking too much can harm your liver,” says Edwin Kuffner, M.D., Vice President of Medical Affairs at McNeil Consumer Healthcare. “Some people may accidentally take more than the total daily dose of acetaminophen because they do not realize they are taking multiple products containing acetaminophen, or because they may not read and follow the label.”
This cold and flu season, get relief responsibly with these tips from McNeil Consumer Healthcare:
• Always read and follow your medicine labels carefully. If you’re taking more than one medicine, read and compare the labels.
• Never take more than one medicine that contains the same active ingredient at the same time.
• Never take more than the recommended dose, unless directed by your doctor. And don’t take any medicine for longer than directed. If you're not getting effective relief, contact your doctor.
• Inform your doctor and pharmacist of your medical history and what medications you take. This will help your healthcare team ensure you're taking medicines that are appropriate for you.
• If you suspect an overdose, even if you don’t have any symptoms, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away at 1-800-222-1222.
• Learn more. Visit the website www.GetReliefResponsibly.com  for tools and resources about how to take medicines safely -- including an interactive medicine checker to find out which of you medicines contain acetaminophen, tips on how to read medicine labels and steps to keep medicines safely out of the reach of children.
During cold and flu season, do yourself a favor. When seeking relief, first learn about the medications you’re taking and be sure to take them responsibly.