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Colds and Chronic Medical Conditions


Cold Treatment and Chronic Medical Conditions

There are cold treatments available over-the-counter and by prescription. However, people with certain chronic medical conditions are more likely to have side effects -- sometimes potentially serious side effects. It's always a good idea to check with your doctor or pharmacist before you take any cold treatment. Make certain that the cold medicine won't interfere with other drugs prescribed for your medical condition. In addition, some drugs may cause side effects such as spikes in blood sugar levels or an increase in heart rate or blood pressure.

Some cold medications may thicken mucus, making it difficult to cough it up. This is a serious concern for those with asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis. Understanding side effects is vital to finding a cold treatment that will not worsen your chronic medical condition.

When to Call the Doctor

Some doctors recommend that people with chronic medical conditions go to the doctor when they come down with cold symptoms. If you have any of the following symptoms, it's a good idea to call your doctor and discuss your individualized cold action plan:

  • The cold symptoms worsen after 3 to 4 days.
  • You develop more serious symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, high fever, shaking chills, or coughing with thick, yellow-green mucus.

Seek emergency medical help if you have any trouble breathing or develop any chest pain.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 06, 2014
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