Nonprescription Medicines and Products - Cold and Allergy Remedies
In general, whether you
take medicines for your cold or not, you'll get better in about a week. Rest
and liquids are the best treatment for a cold. Antibiotics will not help. But
nonprescription medicines help relieve some cold
symptoms, such as nasal congestion and cough.
especially runny nose, often respond to antihistamines. Antihistamines are also
found in many cold medicines, often together with a decongestant.
Decongestants make breathing easier
by shrinking swollen
mucous membranes in the nose, allowing air to pass
through. They also help relieve runny nose and postnasal drip, which can cause
a sore throat.
Decongestants can be taken orally or used as nose
drops or sprays. Oral decongestants (pills) provide longer relief, but they cause more side effects.
Sprays and drops provide rapid but
temporary relief. Sprays and drops are less likely to interact
with other drugs than oral decongestants are.
Saline nose drops are not decongestants but may help
keep nasal tissues moist so the tissues can filter air.
Your pharmacist can suggest a medicine for your cold and allergy symptoms.
- Check the label before you use these medicines. They may not be safe for young children.
- If you use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and in some cases weight. Not everyone needs the same amount of medicine.
- Decongestants can cause problems for people who have
certain health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure,
glaucoma, diabetes, or an overactive
thyroid. Decongestants may also interact with some
drugs, such as certain antidepressants and high blood pressure medicines. Read
the package carefully or ask your pharmacist or doctor to help you choose the
best decongestant for you.
- Drink extra fluids when you are taking cold
- Don't use medicated nasal sprays or drops more than 3 times a day
or for more than 3 days in a row. Continued use will cause a "rebound effect"
in which your mucous membranes swell up more than before you used the
- If you are pregnant, check with your
doctor or pharmacist before using a decongestant.
Coughing is your body's way of getting foreign substances and
mucus out of your respiratory tract . Sometimes, though, coughs are
severe enough to impair breathing or prevent rest.
There are two types of coughs: productive and nonproductive. A productive cough produces phlegm or mucus (sputum). It's generally best if you don't try to stop (suppress) a productive cough. A nonproductive cough does not produce sputum. It is a dry cough.
Water and other
liquids, such as fruit juices, are good cough syrups. They help
soothe the throat and also moisten and thin mucus so it can be coughed up more