Top 10 OTC Medications

May 1, 2011
2011 / May 2011

We asked a small sample of GT readers and colleagues to name the over-the-counter medications they pack when traveling. Here are the 10 most popular, listed with their generic and brand names as well as their generic names in Spanish and French. Some have many brand names; limited space prevented our listing them all.

A note on traveling with medications: Bring an adequate supply of the ones you need in their labeled containers. Read and follow dosage directions to understand the risks and benefits and avoid serious side effects. For information, visit www.medicinenet.com.

1. Loperamide (Imodium, Pepto Diarrhea Control)

Fr. lopéramide; Sp. lopéramida | Tablet, capsule, liquid. Controls diarrhea.

Usually taken immediately after each loose bowel movement, loperamide can also be taken on a schedule for chronic diarrhea with a doctor’s supervision. If symptoms remain after two days (10 days for chronic diarrhea) or if you develop fever or bloody stools, call your doctor. Drink water to replace fluids lost with diarrhea.

2. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)

Fr. ibuprofène; Sp. ibuprofeno | Tablet, chewable tablet, liquid, drops. Reduces fever, relieves mild pain and inflammation.

Ibuprofen is an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) which stops the body’s production of a substance that causes pain, fever and inflammation. Take with food to prevent stomach upset and gastrointestinal bleeding.

3. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Fr. paracetamol; Sp. acetaminofen | Tablet, capsule, liquid. Reduces fever, relieves mild to moderate pain.

Acetaminophen has many potential side effects including unintentional overdose and liver failure. Never take it before or after consuming alcohol; it can cause liver damage or failure. The maker of Tylenol recommends not exceeding the total dose of 4.0 g. in 24 hours; many physicians recommend no more than 2.4 g. in 24 hours since it can be so toxic to the liver. Be aware of other prescription and OTC medications such as cold remedies that contain acetaminophen; it can be lethal in accumulative doses.

4. Acetylsalicylic acid (Bayer Aspirin)

Fr. aspirine; Sp. aspirina | Tablet, chewable tablet, caplet, gelcap. Reduces fever and inflammation, relieves mild to moderate pain.

Acetylsalicylic acid is sometimes used to treat or prevent heart attacks, strokes and angina; but only take on this regimen under a doctor’s care. The FDA states that one-half of a regular-strength aspirin tablet reduces the risk of death by up to 23 percent if administered when a heart attack is suspected and continued for 30 days — a good reason to travel with aspirin at all times. Side effects include gastrointestinal bleeding; some people are allergic to aspirin. Take with food to prevent stomach irritation and bleeding.

5. Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)

Fr. bismuth subsalicylate; Sp. bismuth subsalicylate | Tablet, chewable tablet, liquid. Treats diarrhea, heartburn, upset stomach in adults and children 12 and older.

Bismuth subsalicylate decreases the flow of fluids and electrolytes into the bowel, reduces intestinal inflammation and may kill organisms that cause diarrhea. If symptoms worsen or last longer than 48 hours, stop taking this medication and call your doctor.

6. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

Fr. diphénhydramine; Sp. difenhidramina | Tablet, capsule or liquid by mouth; cream or spray for external use. Antihistamine.

Diphenhydramine relieves symptoms of allergies and colds and cough caused by minor throat irritation, and prevents and treats motion sickness and insomnia. Creams treat itching or swelling due to stings, bites or poison ivy. Do not use to induce sleepiness in children.

7. Calcium carbonate (TUMS)

Fr. carbonate de calcium; Sp. carbonato cálcico | Tablet, chewable tablet, capsule, liquid. Dietary calcium supplement; as an antacid relieves heartburn, acid indigestion and upset stomach.

Take exactly as directed. As a dietary supplement, take it with food. Do not use it as an antacid for more than two weeks unless your doctor advises it. Do not take it within one to two hours of other medicines; calcium may decrease their effectiveness.

8. Hydrocortisone cream (Cortaid)

Fr. cortisol; Sp. hidrocortisona | Ointment, cream, lotion, liquid, gel, cloth towelette and spray for the skin; foam, cream suppositories, ointment and paste for use in the mouth. Temporarily relieves minor skin irritations and the discomfort of mouth sores.

Hydrocortisone is effective in relieving itching and rashes caused by eczema; insect bites; poison ivy, oak and sumac; or soaps, detergents, cosmetics and jewelry; as well as itching and irritation of the scalp. It is usually used one to four times a day for skin problems.

9. Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine, Driminate)

Fr. diménhydrinate; Sp. dimenhidrinato | Tablet, chewable tablet. Prevents and treats nausea, vomiting, dizziness of motion sickness.

This antihistamine prevents problems with body balance. For motion sickness, begin taking 30–60 minutes before travel or a motion activity. Dimenhydrinate is also used to treat Ménière’s disease (a condition of the inner ear which causes extreme dizziness, loss of balance, ringing in the ears and hearing loss) and vertigo.

10. Oxymetazoline (Afrin Nasal Spray)

Fr. oxymetazoline; Sp. oxymetazoline | Nasal spray. Provides temporary relief of nasal congestion.

Oxymetazoline causes the blood vessels lining the nasal passages to constrict. Avoid excessive use; blood vessels can swell after the effects wear off, causing more congestion. Many OTC cold remedies include oxymetazoline.

Travelers surveyed also cited saline nasal spray and eye drops to combat dryness in planes and hotels, sleep aids such as Tylenol PM, cold and sinus products, allergy eye drops, Alka-Seltzer for upset stomach or hangover, Excedrin for migraines, Airborne and vitamins to fight colds, Zantac and Pepcid for acid indigestion, sunscreen and Neosporin ointment.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Daily
Sep 20, 2019

Catch Autumn at the Arboretum in Dallas

Attend one of the most acclaimed fall events, Autumn at the Arboretum, in Dallas. In its 14th year, the annual event is known as one of the best pumpkin festivals in the country, with its creative displays featuring more than 90,000 pumpkins, gourds and squash. The event takes place at Dallas Arboretum, Sept. 21 –Oct. 31. Alongside thousands of pumpkins, guests glimpse 150,000 autumn flowers across the 66-acre space.

The Island of the Knights

Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.

Feature
Sep 19, 2019

Wilderness Safaris Reopens Jao Camp

Following a complete renovation, Wilderness Safaris’ Jao Camp reopened in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.

News
Sep 19, 2019

Best U.S. Cities for Oktoberfest Celebrations

WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 24 key metrics to determine the best destinations for an upcoming Oktoberfest celebration. The brand’s study found the estimated cost for an American to attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, is $5,000. Munich boasts a $1.43 billion annual economic impact on Munich. During Oktoberfest, nearly 2 million gallons of beer are consumed and more than 510,000 whole roast chickens eaten.

To New Heights

United Airlines announces a number of new routes.

Feature
Sep 19, 2019

Qantas Will Start Using a Dreamliner on Santiago–Sydney Route

Qantas will start using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on its Sydney–Santiago route starting in late June 2020.

eFlyer News
Sep 18, 2019

New Luxury Hotel Set to Open in China

A new hotel is slated to open in the capital of China’s Guangxi Province.

TAP Air Portugal Adds 15 Flights Each Week From U.S., Canada

TAP Air Portugal is adding 15 new weekly flights from the United States and Canada by summer 2020,  a new record for the carrier of 71 weekly flights between North America and Portugal.

eFlyer News
Sep 18, 2019

LOT Polish Airlines Adds New Route to Delhi

LOT Polish Airlines is offering travellers more options for travel between Asia and Europe.