Cold And Flu Advice

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(KTVI) - Changing temperatures have a lot of you sneezing and coughing. Overwhelmed with what products will treat your symptoms? Pharmacist Dr. Nicole Gattas helps us navigate you through the cold medicine aisle.

IF YOU HAVE A COLD, SHOULD YOU TAKE A COMBO MEDICINE OR ONE MEDICINE THAT TREATS A SPECIFIC SYMPTOM?
Part of the answer is patient preference, but it can also depend on a few things. There are tons of combination products and they all have different medications in them. Most of them have 3 or 4 products to treat multiple symptoms.  For example, DayQuil has acetaminophen to treat sore throat, pain, or fever; dextromethorphan to decrease cough; and phenylepherine to treat stuffy or congested nose.  But, it doesn`t have an antihistamine to treat runny nose because those products usually cause drowsiness.  But if you don`t have a sore throat, or you aren`t coughing, this would not be the best choice for you.  Having the extra medicines on board can cause more side effects, even. So the bottom line is that you still should choose a product to treat your symptoms and the best way to do that is to talk to your pharmacist.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO TREAT EACH SYMPTOM?
This is what I do when I get sick. I carry around a 'sick bag' with me so I can treat what I need to when I need to.
I use an antihistamine for runny nose like generic Benadryl.  This will dry you up and can cause dry mouth, and it isn`t for everyone. If you have prostate problems or are elderly, usually you want to stick away from this. Also, they cause drowsiness.

WILL TAKING A CLARITIN OR ALLEGRA TREAT ALLERGY SYMPTOMS?
Actually, they are great for allergies, but been shown not to work as well for runny nose due to a cold!
The second drug I carry is a decongestant like generic Sudafed.  In some counties like St. Charles, this is now a prescription, though, so you`ll have to call your doctor.  You can try Sudafed PE with phenylepherine, but it just doesn`t work quite as well. You shouldn`t take this one if you have really high blood pressure, though. But, you could try the nasal spray, Afrin instead. The nasal sprays work really well, but don`t use them more than 3 days or they can cause rebound or worse congestion! You can use a PLAIN nasal spray to help keep those nasal passages moist for longer, though.

WHAT PRODUCTS BEST TREAT A COUGH?
You don`t always want to treat cough!  If it is 'productive' and you are coughing up the gunk, then it is better to let it get out of your lungs.  But lets say you can`t sleep or you have an interview, you could take a cough suppressant like dextromethorphan then. I like Delsym because it lasts 12 hours, or you can get a prescription for Codiene from your physician, which works even better. But, Delsym shouldn`t make you tired, and codiene can knock you out.  I do highly recommend cough drops for soothing your cough and throat, too. Cherry Halls are my favorite!

WHAT PRODUCTS BEST TREAT A FEVER?
First of all, if you have fever, that is a sign that you should be staying home from school or work. If it is high, call your physician.  If you have fever with body aches and pains, also call, it could be the flu, not a cold.  For sore throat or fever, you can take acetaminophen which is generic Tylenol.  But, be careful. There are new maximum doses on the Tylenol, and it depends on which product you are using. You shouldn`t go over about 3000 mg of it a day, and for sure not over 4000 mg a day.  If you take any prescriptions from the doctor, make sure that they don`t also have acetaminophen in them, because you don`t want to double up.  When taken in the right doses, it is pretty safe unless you have liver disease.

Also, I always recommend a humidifier to help the cough at night too.

Sounds like a lot, maybe I`ll just stick with a multiple symptom product!

That`s fine, just remember to check what is in the product before you take it so that you aren`t overtreating your cold.  If it`s been in your cabinet a long time, check the expiration date. Don`t just double the dose if it is expired, it is best to get a new medication.  If you have a lot of medical conditions, you should always check with your pharmacist or physician before you start a new over the counter medication.  October is American Pharmacists Month so we encourage people to 'Know their Medicine, and Know their Pharmacist'

Products:

DayQuil and NyQuil

Benadryl

Sudafed

Afrin

Delsym

Acetaminophen

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