Generic Name: aspirin, chlorpheniramine, and phenylephrine (ASP rin, KLOR fen IR a meen, and FEN il EFF rin)Brand Names: Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Formula
Aspirin is in a group of drugs called salicylates (sa-LIS-il-ates). It works by reducing substances in the body that cause pain, fever, and inflammation.
Chlorpheniramine is an antihistamine that reduces the natural chemical histamine in the body. Histamine can produce symptoms of sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and runny nose.
Phenylephrine is a decongestant that shrinks blood vessels in the nasal passages. Dilated blood vessels can cause nasal congestion (stuffy nose).
The combination of aspirin, chlorpheniramine, and phenylephrine is used to treat symptoms of the common cold including sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, fever, and minor aches and pains.
Aspirin, chlorpheniramine, and phenylephrine may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.What is the most important information I should know about aspirin, chlorpheniramine, and phenylephrine?Do not give this medication to a child younger than 2 years old. Always ask a doctor before giving a cough or cold medicine to a child. Death can occur from the misuse of cough and cold medicines in very young children. Aspirin should not be given to a child or teenager who has a fever, especially if the child also has flu symptoms or chicken pox. Aspirin can cause a serious and sometimes fatal condition called Reye's syndrome in children.What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking aspirin, chlorpheniramine, and phenylephrine?Do not use this medication if you have taken an MAO inhibitor such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) in the last 14 days. Serious, life threatening side effects can occur if you use a cold medicine before the MAO inhibitor has cleared from your body. You should not use this medication if you are allergic to aspirin, chlorpheniramine, or phenylephrine; or if you have:
a recent history of stomach or intestinal bleeding;
a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia; or
if you are unable to urinate.
Ask a doctor or pharmacist about using aspirin, chlorpheniramine, and phenylephrine if you have:
heart disease, high blood pressure;
heartburn, stomach pain, indigestion, ulcer, or other stomach problems;
enlarged prostate, urination problems;
asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis;
a thyroid disorder;
asthma or seasonal allergies; or
if you are on a low-salt diet.
Use this medication as directed on the label, or as your doctor has prescribed. Do not use the medication in larger amounts or for longer than recommended.Do not give this medication to a child younger than 2 years old. Always ask a doctor before giving a cough or cold medicine to a child. Death can occur from the misuse of cough and cold medicines in very young children. Dissolve the effervescent tablet in a glass of water and drink it right away. Do not chew or swallow the tablet whole. Contact your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, or if they get worse, especially if you have:
a sore throat that lasts longer than 2 days;
a sore throat with a fever and headache, nausea, vomiting, or skin rash; or
a cough, stuffy nose, and pain that lasts longer than 7 days.
If you need to have any type of surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time if you are taking medicine that contains aspirin. You may need to stop taking the medicine for a short time.Store aspirin, chlorpheniramine, and phenylephrine at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
See also: Aspirin, chlorpheniramine, and phenylephrine dosage in more detail
Since cold medicine is often used as needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. If you are using the medication regularly, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and wait until your next regularly scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
Overdose symptoms may include ringing in your ears, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, confusion, feeling restless of excited, hallucinations, rapid breathing, fever, and seizure (convulsions).
Avoid using other medicines that make you sleepy (such as cold medicine, pain medication, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures, depression or anxiety). They can add to sleepiness caused by chlorpheniramine.
Avoid using other medicines that may cause restlessness (such as caffeine, stimulants, diet pills, and decongestants contained in over-the-counter cold medicines). They can add to the stimulant effects of phenylephrine.Do not use any other over-the-counter medication without first asking your doctor or pharmacist. Aspirin, antihistamines, and decongestants are contained in many medicines available over the counter. If you take certain products together you may accidentally take too much of a certain drug. Read the label of any other medicine you are using to see if it contains aspirin, an antihistamine, or a decongestant.
Avoid taking an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) while you are taking aspirin. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), diclofenac (Voltaren), etodolac (Lodine), indomethacin (Indocin), meloxicam (Mobic), nabumetone (Relafen), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), piroxicam (Feldene), and others.Avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking aspirin. Alcohol may increase your risk of stomach bleeding.
black, bloody, or tarry stools;
coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
redness or swelling;
new cold or flu symptoms;
fast or uneven heartbeats;
feeling light-headed, fainting;
ringing in your ears, hallucinations (seeing things that are not there); or
Less serious side effects may include:
feeling restless or excited (especially in children);
sleep problems (insomnia); or
heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Usual Adult Dose for Nasal Congestion:
ASA/chlorpheniramine/phenylephrine 325 mg-2 mg-7.8 mg oral tablet, effervescent:2 tablets dissolved in 4 ounces of water every 4 hours not to exceed 8 tablets daily.
Usual Pediatric Dose for Nasal Congestion:
ASA/chlorpheniramine/phenylephrine 325 mg-2 mg-7.8 mg oral tablet, effervescent:12 years or older: 2 tablets dissolved in 4 ounces of water every 4 hours not to exceed 8 tablets daily.
Tell your doctor if you are taking an antidepressant such as citalopram (Celexa), duloxetine (Cymbalta), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Symbyax), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), or venlafaxine (Effexor). Taking any of these drugs with aspirin may cause you to bruise or bleed easily.
Tell your doctor about all other medications you use, especially:
a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin);
gout medication such as probenecid (Benemid);
diabetes medication you take by mouth;
a barbiturate such as amobarbital (Amytal), butabarbital (Butisol), mephobarbital (Mebaral), secobarbital (Seconal), or phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton); or
another salicylate such as choline salicylate and/or magnesium salicylate (Magan, Doan's, Bayer Select Backache Pain Formula, Mobidin, Arthropan, Trilisate, Tricosal), or salsalate (Disalcid).
This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with aspirin, chlorpheniramine, and phenylephrine. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.