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There are so many options for winter cold medications available, to the point where most people are confused about what to get. This is because of the wide array of cold and flu symptoms that people can suffer from, and identifying the key symptoms you’re experiencing is the first step to determining which over-the-counter or prescription medication you need. Here are all the various treatment options available and how they work so so you can choose the best treatment for easing cold symptoms.
Best Medicine to Relieve Common Cold Symptoms
The common cold can cause symptoms such as a dry or wet cough, running nose, congestion, fever, and congestion. Here are the best medicines available as both over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs for treating the cold and flu.
Best Medicine for Cough
Treating a cough arising from a common cold can be tricky. The medicine you choose depends on the type of cough you have.
- For a dry cough, choose a cough suppressant.
- For a wet cough (with mucus), go with an expectorant.
Coughing protects your body as it expels unwanted microbes, mucus, and air, thus getting rid of the bacteria inside your body. Unfortunately, the cough can be a reflex that is triggered excessively which in turn can cause discomfort.
If coughing is interfering with your sleep or daily life, your doctor may recommend taking a cough suppressant at night. A cough suppressant helps to block the nerve impulse that leads to the cough reflex, thus providing short-term relief from coughing.
Products containing diphenhydramine and dextromethorphan are available over the counter, while hydrocodone and codeine require a prescription. Dextromethorphan is the most commonly found over-the-counter cough suppressant and is an active ingredient for gel caps, lozenges, cough syrups, and other multi-symptom cold and flu products. This ingredient is best used for a dry cough that doesn’t bring out phlegm or mucus.
Diphenhydramine works through the medulla in the brain to suppress cough reflexes. However, it also can relieve a stuffy nose and is used to help provide relief for allergy symptoms.
Expectorants are used primarily for individuals who have a cough that produces mucus. These drugs help to thin the secretions and loosen mucus so that it can be coughed up with greater ease. They can help ease congestion, especially for cold and flu symptoms. Expectorants are typically available as a standalone drug or an active ingredient in an all-in-one cold and cough medicine.
These drugs aren’t cough suppressants since they don’t stop the cough. However, coughing is how your body clears the airways of germs and bacteria. By lubricating the airways, coughing up the mucus helps to provide symptom relief, such as relief from chest congestion. Since you’re coughing up the mucus that may contain viruses and bacteria, coughing it out of your system lowers the risk of catching infectious diseases. If there is mucus in your lungs, it is important to clear it immediately. If it’s not removed, it can cause lung infections such as pneumonia.
Best Medicine for Runny Nose or Sinus-related Symptoms
Although a runny nose is only temporary, we all know how uncomfortable it can be. Typically, they are caused by allergies, viral infection, cold weather, or illnesses. Here are the best medications for sinus-related symptoms.
Antihistamines block the release of histamine, a natural substance that the immune system in our body releases when our bodies overreact to an allergen such as pet dander or pollen. As a result, it can trigger cold symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and watery eyes.
Antihistamines are medications that reduce these symptoms along with stomach problems as well. They are commonly used to treat individuals with allergy symptoms. Some healthcare providers may advise against using antihistamines to treat a common cold since they don’t eliminate the virus that is the root cause of the cold, but only treat the symptoms.
Also, it’s important to note that they can cause drowsiness. Therefore antihistamines can be found in medications meant for use before bedtime.
Most people think that congestion is caused by excess mucus that blocks the nasal passages. However, it can also occur when the blood vessels in your nose become enlarged.
Nasal decongestants can relieve congestion by unclogging a congested nose. The active ingredients used help shrink swollen blood vessels, allowing you to breathe easier. As a result, it reduces mucus production and lets air pass through. They are typically found in cold medications but are also used separately in nasal sprays, liquid drops, and pills.
When it comes to treating a running nose or stuffy nose, most people prefer nasal sprays over oral decongestants since they provide more immediate relief. Also, they have fewer side effects since nasal sprays are localized to a specific area of the body.
Nasal sprays contain an active ingredient called oxymetazoline, which reduces the stuffiness of a nose. Avoid using these sprays more than three days in a row since your stuffy nose could worsen. A saline spray is often the safest option since it contains a tiny amount of salt diluted in sterilized water, which helps moisturize the inflamed nasal passages.
For those who have chronic nasal congestion, using products like the Breathe Right nasal strips can help to ease the nasal congestion. These strips fit over the bridge of your nose and increase airflow to the nasal passages.
For those with health conditions like high blood pressure, glaucoma, or heart problems, make sure to consult with your doctor before taking nasal decongestant sprays since they can spike your blood pressure. It’s also not recommended for children under three years old.
Best Medicine for Sore Throat, Fever, and Body Aches
It can be rough when you’re sick and bedridden from the cold or flu. It takes time for your body to fight off what ails you, but relief from a fever, body aches, and a sore throat can come sooner. Here are some of the medications best used for these symptoms.
Acetaminophen is a drug that treats mild to severe pain along with reducing fever. Common conditions that can be treated by acetaminophen are headaches, backaches, muscle aches, arthritis, sore throat, cold, flu, and toothaches.
Always follow the instructions outlined in the OTC medications. Going over the dose of 3000mg per 24 hours can cause serious harm to the liver.
Analgesics are pain relievers and fever reducers. The most common over the counter brands for analgesics are:
Naproxen and ibuprofen can provide pain relief to body aches, while acetaminophen and aspirin are better suited for headaches and fevers. These pain relievers can reduce many types of pain, including:
- sore throat
- muscle aches
- body aches
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID)
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to relieve all kinds of symptoms like body aches, headaches, stiffness, swelling, and fever. Although it’s quite similar to acetaminophen, acetaminophen don’t have the anti-inflammatory properties that NSAIDs have. It helps block the production of certain body chemicals that may cause inflammation.
Numbing Throat Sprays and Lozenges
Numbing throat sprays, lozenges, and cough drops are used to treat a sore or scratchy throat. It provides temporary pain relief. Each drug may have different percentages of ingredients, so make sure to read the label carefully. Here are the common active ingredients found in these products:
- Phenol: commonly used in throat sprays and act as an oral anesthetic for soothing your throat
- Benzocaine: A numbing agency that eases coughs and relieves pain.
- Menthol: It’s designed to suppress cough and cool the painful area. It also works to alleviate nasal congestion.
- Dextromethorphan: An agent that sends signals to your brain to suppress the cough reflex
Sometimes, you may prefer a cold remedy that treats multiple symptoms at once. Most all-in-one cold flu medications include a combination of:
- Cough suppressants
Make sure to proceed with caution when taking multi-symptom treatments. You’ll need to pay attention to the active ingredients used. For example, if the medicine contains acetaminophen, don’t take Midol, Excedrin, or Tylenol because they also have acetaminophen in them. Double dosing can be dangerous and lead to harmful side effects.
Sometimes a multi-symptom treatment isn’t ideal for a person with only one symptom. For instance, if the medicine is labeled to treat a cough, runny nose, and fever, but you only have a cough, it’s better to pick a cough suppressant instead.
Choose Compounded Winter Cold Treatments from Fort Worth Pharmacy
Knowing how the different types of cold and flu medicines work and what they do can help you select the best medicine for your cold and flu. Analgesics works as a pain reliever for body aches and fevers. Cough suppressants help treat dry coughs, and expectorants loosen up mucus to relieve wet cough. Decongestants clear up nasal passages and airways to improve congestion. Antihistamines provide relief to allergies.
Depending on your circumstance and health conditions, standard over-the-counter cold medicine may not be the best option for you. That’s because it may cause side effects that compromise your health and you may be allergic to some of the components.
A pharmacist can customize compounded medications for you. They can replace ingredients and chemicals you are allergic to and customize the dosage based on your doctor’s recommendation. These are medications that are better suited for your health and aren’t found in most pharmacies. Speak with your trusted healthcare provider to get a proper diagnosis and treatment, and we can customize your medication for you.
Choose Fort Worth Pharmacy for compounded winter cold medicines. We have a wide range of cold and flu medicines that can be customized and tailored to fit your needs. Whether you are looking to transfer a prescription or need a refill, contact us today!