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Cough and Cold Medicine Menagerie

Elizabeth

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Dec 18th, 2012

Woman blowing her nose

As if it’s not bad enough that you have a cough or cold, just try to figure out how to choose a non-prescription remedy. It can be confusing to negotiate between daytime, nighttime, sinus, high blood pressure, non drowsy, severe symptom, multi symptom, time release, dissolving, chewable, melt in mouth, liquid-gels, cough syrups, long acting, etc. All that’s missing is a “wheel of fortune”. Good luck, right?

Let me help you simplify this whole deal. Do what your pharmacist does and match the symptoms you have with the ingredients that work. It doesn’t usually matter if it’s a tablet, capsule, liquid, etc. as long as the ingredients work on your symptoms. Consider how frequently you would need to take the product, and if there are any side-effects you want to avoid and DON’T buy something that has ingredients you don’t really need.

  • COUGH: To break up junk in the chest look for the word “expectorant”. Guiafenesin is the main ingredient for that symptom. Drinking extra water helps. If you have excessive coughing, look for a “cough suppressant”. Usually DM or dextromethorphan will be listed in the ingredients.
  • CONGESTION: To relieve stuffy nose and head, look for a “decongestant”. Phenylephrine is commonly used. Products with pseudoephedrine tend to work better but are kept behind the pharmacy counter. These ingredients can increase blood pressure, heart rate, and cause insomnia. Decongestants are usually not included in HBP-type products, and may not relieve congestion. Often these products will say “sinus” on the packaging.
  • RUNNY NOSE: Look for products that include an “antihistamine”. Drowsiness is common with antihistamines, especially diphenhydramine. Normally “daytime” products won’t include an antihistamine and may not relive runny nose.
  • FEVER, HEADACHE, ACHES AND PAIN: Many products contain “analgesics” like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. It might be best to purchase these separately. Multi symptom products are OK if you have ALL the symptoms. Otherwise, you have more options if you keep pain relievers separate from your cough and cold products.

Finally, trying to figure all of this stuff out when your head hurts might be problematic so just ask your Albertsons Market pharmacist for assistance. pharmacist. We’re here to help and happy to do it!

**This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your primary care physician.

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