Can I take paracetamol or ibuprofen with cough or cold medicines?

It depends whether the cough or cold medicine also contains paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Don't exceed the maximum dose

To avoid exceeding the maximum dose, you should not take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you're already taking a cough or cold medicine that contains these ingredients.

You can check if the cough or cold medicine contains paracetamol or ibuprofen by looking at:

  • the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine
  • the medicine's label
  • the medicine's packaging

If you do decide to take paracetamol or ibuprofen and the cough or cold medicine also contains these ingredients, make sure you don't take more than the maximum dose.

If you're not sure what to do, get advice from your pharmacist.

Medicines that reduce coughing (suppressants) are not recommended for some conditions, such as bronchitis. Coughing helps to clear mucus from your lungs. If you stop or reduce your cough, some mucus may remain in your lungs, which can be harmful.

For advice about using these medicines for children, see Can I give my child paracetamol or ibuprofen with cough or cold medicines?

Information about paracetamol, ibuprofen and cough or cold medicines

Read more information about:

Some people should avoid taking ibuprofen or use it with caution, such as people with asthma. For more information, see Ibuprofen – special considerations and Paracetamol – special considerations.

The Medicines A-Z also has information about paracetamol and ibuprofen, including whether they interact with alcohol, foods and other medicines. You can also use the Medicines A-Z to find information about medicines used to treat colds and coughs.

Read the answers to more questions about medicines.

Further information:

Coughs

Watch as a GP describes the most common causes for coughs and how they can be treated

Media last reviewed: 22/11/2013

Next review due: 22/11/2015

Page last reviewed: 02/07/2013

Next review due: 01/07/2015