Narrator: When you're sick, the last thing you want to do is go shopping for over-the-counter relief. That's why having the right remedy on hand can be just what the doctor ordered.In this case, Dr. Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, an internist from the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta.She went shopping with us recently to help explain the different uses of some of the products overwhelming galaxy of over the counter medications.
Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, Internist, Emory School of Medicine: Acetaminophen is an excellent fever reducer as well as a pain reliever.Along with acetaminophen, we should all have some anti-inflammatory medications:
Narrator: For most people, that means some sort of ibuprofen.But if you prefer, aspirin, can also be used to relieve body aches but should never be given to a child with a fever or taken by people with stomach problems.And different types of anti-inflammatories, should not be taken in combination—you wouldn't want to take aspirin with ibuprofen, for example.
Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, Internist, Emory School of Medicine: Of course you can always add acetaminophen to those anti-inflammatories without any trouble.
Narrator: Coughing is one way the body tries to clear mucus. Cough medicines can sometimes be helpful, but studies show they are often taken when there's no need. Cough medicines should never be given to children under four years old.
Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, Internist, Emory School of Medicine: Dextramathorphan is a cough suppressant that helps to quiet down your cough so that you can get some sleep at night. You'll be able to recognize it by the 'd-m' on the label.The other is guafinisin. Now guafinisin is an expectorant. It helps to loosen up that mucus so that you can get it up and out.If you don't have any mucus, you really don't need the expectorant. So don't make yourself cough more by using something that you don't need.
Narrator: Steam therapy, humidifiers, hot liquids and sleeping with your head elevated might be all you need for congestion. Gargling warm salty water or sucking a lozenge can often aid a sore throat.While there's scant science to prove their effectiveness, many swear by vitamin C, zinc, honey, lemon and chicken soup. But if do you do need something stronger, remember--less is more.
Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, Internist, Emory School of Medicine: The decongestant can be helpful but use them only sparingly.They can make your heart race and they can sometimes make the mucus so thick that it's actually hard to get out.
Narrator: And you'll want to keep those medications in a dry medicine cabinet, one that's not too cold and not too hot.Humidity, like sunlight, can shorten the life of your meds. Make sure you keep up with expiration dates, and always, store them safely out of the reach of children.For WebMD, I'm Damon Meharg.