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Flu Treatment

Need help deciding which treatments are effective for the flu? Wonder how you can manage the flu? There are treatments that can help relieve common flu symptoms such as fever, aches, and cough, and may shorten the time you have flu symptoms. Keep in mind that you should not give over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to children under age 4.

Which treatments should I take for flu symptoms?

The flu treatment you should take depends on your symptoms. For example, if you have nasal or sinus congestion, then a decongestant can be helpful.

Decongestants come oral or nasal spray forms. Decongestants are used to reduce swelling in the nasal passageways. However, nasal spray decongestants should not be used for more than a few days because, if they are used too long and then stopped, they can cause rebound symptoms.

If you have a runny nose, postnasal drip, or itchy, watery eyes -- then an antihistamine may be helpful for your flu symptoms. Antihistamines block the effect of "histamine," and help relieve such annoying symptoms as sneezing, itching, and nasal discharge.

Over-the-counter antihistamines often make people drowsy, whereas decongestants can make people hyper or keep them awake. Keep in mind that both decongestants and antihistamines can interact with other drugs you may be taking, and they may aggravate some conditions. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which flu symptom treatment is best for you.

Which treatment should I use for nasal congestion?

If you need immediate relief for swollen, congested nasal passages, you may get relief with an over-the-counter decongestant nasal spray. It is important to stop using decongestant nasal sprays after three to five days to avoid the development of rebound congestion.

Some doctors suggest using a saline spray instead of a medicated spray. Saline sprays loosen thick mucus in the nasal passageways but have no rebound effect. They may be used for extended periods of time without significant side effects.

Is it safe to take a decongestant if I have high blood pressure?

Decongestants can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are oral decongestants commonly available in over-the-counter products. In general, if your blood pressure is well controlled with medications, then a decongestant shouldn't be a problem as long as you monitor your blood pressure. This may not be true, however, with certain types of blood pressure medications. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about safety.

Which flu treatment works best for my cough?

An occasional cough may clear the lung of pollutants and excess phlegm. A persistent cough should be diagnosed and treated specifically. On the pharmacy shelf, you'll find numerous cough medicines with various combinations of decongestants, antihistamines, analgesics/antipyretics, cough suppressants, and expectorants. Ask your pharmacist which combination, if any, would be appropriate for your cough.

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