3 Reasons To Always Check Medicine Labels

The last time you were sick, it is likely that you reached for an over the counter medicine to help you feel better. Have you ever thought to look at the ingredients in the items in your medicine cabinet? Things like cough syrup, cold, flu and headache medications are meant to help you feel better, right? Think about this scenario, you’re ill and you’ve been taking an over the counter cough syrup at the recommended dosage (every 4-6 hours or 4-6 times every day). A few days goes by and your cough is still hanging on… you continue to take the cough syrup. The big question you should be asking right now is, do you really know what is in that medication you’ve been taking multiple times a day? It might seem harmless, but constant use of medication over time can really add up when it comes to its effects on your health. Because the ingredients of what you put in your body have such an impact, we will take a look at these over the counter medications and explore 3 reasons to always check medicine labels.

We will start off by saying that finding and interpreting the nutritional and ingredient list for over the counter medications is not easy. Manufacturers don’t necessarily include nutritional facts that tell you exactly how much sugar or carbohydrates you will find in one serving. Therefore, it is important to look at the ingredient list and decipher exactly what those ingredients are. It is likely that the ingredient list will contain things that do not correlate to anything that you are familiar with. We recommend that you always look up anything you’re not sure of to make sure it’s not harmful to your health. The main 3 reasons to always check medicine labels include: hidden sugars, artificial ingredients, and hidden carbohydrates and we will dig into each of these below.

1. Hidden sugars – if you’ve done any research on sugar, you know that is in nearly everything, but did you know it can even be in your medication? We don’t always recognize the many forms of sugar in ingredient lists because of the various names it has. With that being said, it is very common for manufacturers to use sugars to sweeten and add flavor to over the counter medicines. One leading brand of cold and flu medicine contains saccharin and sucralose, which are both artificial sweeteners. We will go into more detail on artificial ingredients in the next section. For now, know that in addition to these artificial sweeteners, this particular brand also contains a sugar alcohol, sorbitol! From this information, you can clearly see how the amount of sugar in medications can add up very quickly.

2. Artificial ingredients – you will find artificial ingredients such as the sweeteners that we mentioned above to add flavor medication. You will also find that they are also often filled with artificial food dyes. These dyes can create a plethora of issues for your body. The same leading brand mentioned above contains D&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Yellow No. 6, and FD& C Green No. 3. These are all synthetic color additives. Another common ingredient in liquid medications is propylene glycol, which is a synthetic organic compound that is best known for its viscous properties. You can see that the number of artificial ingredients, in just this one brand of over the counter cold and flu medication, is quite a long list as they are used to “enhance” nearly every aspect of the medication including the flavor, color and viscosity!

3. Hidden carbohydrates – many medications are made with fillers, and these fillers often end up being some form of carbohydrate. You will find this is true especially in cough syrups. If you’re following a ketogenic diet, recall that you want to reduce your carbohydrate consumption, so that your body uses fat (ketones) for energy instead. In the event of carbohydrate consumption, your body converts carbs into glucose (sugar) and then uses that for energy. Imagine what happens to your body when taking over the counter medications… in some cases, the amount of carbohydrates found in medication can add up to be more than a can of soda! Think about the above scenario where you’re taking it multiple times per day. You can see how those carbohydrates can add up fast!

For all of these reasons, it is so incredibly important to find sugar free alternatives, like this one, that are made with natural ingredients that are not harmful to your body. You might wonder how you know which medications to choose as manufacturers don’t list the amount of sugar or carbohydrates on medication labels. Our first suggestion would be to ask your primary care physician or pharmacist, as they can help you find more natural options. The second suggestion is to take note that liquids often contain more sugar than pills so if you have the option, pill form may be less harmful when it comes to ingredients. Third, try topical treatments like icing an area with muscle pain before taking an anti-inflammatory or pain reliever.

Now that we’ve explored 3 reasons to always check medicine labels, you know some of the things to be on the lookout for in your medicine cabinet. Things like cough syrup, cold, flu and headache medications are meant to help you feel better, but they can contain ingredients that are harmful to your body. Next time you find yourself with an illness, we strongly suggest that you be aware of the medications you reach for. Consider the sugar, carbohydrates and artificial ingredients that you will likely find, as we discussed, here. Remember how they can have a huge impact on your health and not necessarily in a positive way. If your doctor prescribes medication for you, be sure to discuss the ingredients and what your alternatives are. Being conscious of the things hidden in these over the counter medications can go a long way in the maintaining the health of your body.

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