Over 10% of people in the United States are on antidepressant medication. Lexapro, an antidepressant in the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class, is a very commonly used drug and is the basis of our question today. Everyone gets sick from time to time and we discuss what cold medications you can and can not take while on Lexapro.
Symptomatic treatment cold symptoms can sometimes be tricky when you are taking prescription medication. You want to find the best products to alleviate your symptoms but must also keep in the mind the potential for drug interactions with the medication you are taking.
In regards to Lexapro (Escitalopram), there are certainly some over the counter medications that you either want to avoid, or take caution with:
- NSAIDs (e.g. Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Aspirin): The combined use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Lexapro and NSAIDs can increase the risk for an upper GI bleed. This is especially true if you have had a history of GI bleeds or ulcerations in the past. NSAIDs are used in combination with many over the counter cold products so be sure to read product labels! This precaution also includes bismuth subsalicylate, one of the ingredients in Pepto-Bismol.
- Dextromethorphan (Delsym): Caution should be taken when using Lexapro and dextromethorphan together. Dextromethorphan can increase serotonin levels in the body and has the potential of causing serotonin syndrome when used with other medications that affect serotonin. Serotonin syndrome is characterized by rapid development of hyperthermia, high blood pressure and mental status changes. Although rare, it is extremely serious. Sometimes the combination of dextromethorphan and SSRIs can be used but should only be considered after speaking with your physician.
- Psuedoephedrine (Sudafed): Sudafed products can be used on occasion but must be used cautiously if you have a history of arrhythmia (e.g. QT prolongation) or other heart issues as the combination of SSRI medication and Sudafed can exacerbate these conditions.
Generally Considered Okay
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines (e.g. Claritin, Zyrtec) are generally considered OK to use. They can help with a variety of cold symptoms such as a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. They can also help on occasion with congestion and coughing due to post nasal drip as they can have a slight drying effect.
- Acetaminophen: Tylenol (acetaminophen) is in most cases a better option for a pain reliever/fever reducer than NSAID medications.
- Guaifenesin: Mucinex (guaifenesin) is generally considered OK to use. It can help thin out excess mucus and relieve chest congestion.
- Zinc/Vitamin C: Lexapro is compatible with other cold remedies such as Zinc lozenges and vitamin C.