It’s an innocent enough looking little phrase, isn’t it.  “Non-Drowsy”.

pseudoephedrine, amphetamines, cough syrup, cough mixture, medicine, Boots the ChemistIt’s on the front of millions of bottles of medicine across the UK.

It means that the medicine in question won’t send you to sleep – so it’s safe to take it when you need to drive, to concentrate, to be alert for that important meeting.

So what?  Why does this warrant a blog post?

Because “Non-Drowsy” doesn’t necessarily mean simply that at all.

See that photo of two similar bottles of cough syrup, both stating that they are “Non-Drowsy”?  Well, the contents are distinctly different. The ingredients are actually pretty clearly printed. But after a long day of flu, cough and cold when you reach for the medicine before bed, it’s too easy to skim the front, see the “Non-Drowsy” claim and quaff completely the wrong thing, throwing your night into turmoil.

Take one of these, and there’s no change, except hopefully to your cough.  You go about your usual business and all is well.  If you’ve taken the medicine at bed time, you go to bed as usual, fall asleep as usual…

Take the other, and you’re wide, wide, wide awake – eyes pinging on stalks, brain doing loop-the-loops.

Still wondering why?  (Probably you’re thinking ‘You complete idiot’, but onwards…’)

Why is because while one bottle is simply “Non-Drowsy” medicine,  the other contains Pseudoephedrine, which as you should already know, is a very ‘wake-you-up-and-make-you-go-go” ingredient.  Far from being innocently “Non-Drowsy”, medicine number two contains a significant proportion of a drug from the Amphetamine family.

So next time you have a cough and are reaching for the syrup, just check exactly which  “Non-Drowsy” medicine you’re grabbing.  We had bottles of both in the house.  Hmmm.   One night in the midst of a protracted bout of cold, flu and chest infection  I accidentally took the wrong one and spent four hours of the night pinging off the walls rather than sleeping off my lingering sickness.

Lesson learnt.

Lesson shared.


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