The Good Old Days

In the good old days I took over-the-counter medication for backaches. My pain was bad, so I took extra-strength tablets. The “extra” on the label meant that each tablet contained twice as much painkiller as the regular-strength ones.

In the good old days I took an over-the-counter decongestant to defuse migraines. I took regular-strength decongestant tablets rather than the extra-strength ones. The “extra” on the label meant that each tablet included a painkiller: Its dose of decongestant was the same as the regular-strength tablets.  Because my migraines didn’t always present with pain, I medicated the pain independently.

That was the good old days when “extra” meant, well, “something more”: more of the same painkiller in one case, more medicinal ingredients in the other.

Today, the Big Guy went to buy more over-the-counter cold medication, because I had gone through our stock of extra-strength caplets and still felt crummy. He returned with regular strength, that being all they had in stock. I looked at the two labels to see how they differed.

They do not differ: Each caplet contains the same ingredients, in the same amounts.

Label showing specs and dose for regular strength
Regular Strength
Cold remedy label showing extra strength the same as regular
Extra Strength

So, what makes one box “extra-strength”?  The dosage. To achieve an extra-strength effect, take two regular-strength caplets, conveniently contained within.

Ah for the good old days, when “extra” actually meant “something more.” Something more than “take two.”



  1. Isabel, you are a wonder! You think about checking things and looking into situations that must slide right past me every day. What an eye-opener! I shall be more alert. “Extra” on your part, indeed. To the misleading advertisers, Harrumph!

  2. Alison

    Always important to read the label! And also to talk to the pharmacist- sometimes you’re better to only take the drugs that you need, rather than a mixture? But there, that said, Hope you feel better soon.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Alison – Yes, taking only what’s needed seems right — my own theory when it comes to migraines — but somehow when I have a cold, I want everything that’s going. As for professional advice, I like pharmacists in theory but our local crew is a bit cranky so I minimize my interactions.

        1. Isabel Gibson

          Tom – I think the way it works is that the night-time capsule has something drowsy-making that the daytime capsule lacks. But neither of them have any extra compared to their regular-strength equivalents.

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