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Over-The-Counter Medicines and Bleeding Risk

People who have low platelets, bleeding disorders, or take blood-thinning medications need to be careful about other medicines they take. Some medicines can increase the risk of bleeding. Even over-the-counter medicines that you can buy at grocery stores or pharmacies to treat pain, colds, fever, and headache can increase this risk.

Store-bought medicines to avoid for those at risk of bleeding

Pain and fever medicines

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, often referred to as NSAIDs
    • Ibuprofen. Brand names include Advil®, Motrin IB®, and Children’s Advil®.
    • Naproxen. Brand names include Aleve®.
    • Ketoprofen.
  • Aspirin. Brand names include Bayer®, Bufferin®, Excedrin®, and Goody’s® powder.

Cough and cold medicines

  • Multi-symptom medicines. Brand names include Advil Cold & Sinus®, Aleve Sinus®.

Sleep aids

  • Sleep aids and other medicines that include NSAIDs or aspirin. Brand names include Advil PM®.

Heartburn, nausea, and upset stomach medications

  • Brand names include Alka Selzer® and Pepto Bismol®.

This list does not include all medicines that could increase the risk of bleeding. To learn more, talk to your care team.

Find active ingredients on a medication label

Many store brand products also contain NSAIDs. If you are unsure, ask a doctor or pharmacist to find out if the product is safe for you.

Active ingredients are listed under drug facts on the label of medicines that you buy at the store.

Key Points

  • Medications that you buy at grocery stores and pharmacies are called over-the-counter medications.
  • Some medicines can increase your risk for bleeding. This can be dangerous if you have a bleeding disorder or take blood-thinning medications.
  • Talk to your health care team before taking any new medications. Make sure the medications that you take are safe for you.

Reviewed: August 2022