Nonprescription Medicines and Products - Cold and Allergy Remedies
You can make a simple and soothing cough syrup at home by
mixing 1 part lemon juice with 2 parts honey. Use as often as needed. This can
be given to children 1 year and older.
There are two kinds
of cough medicines:
- Expectorants help thin the mucus and make it easier to cough
mucus up when you have a productive cough. Look for expectorants containing
- Suppressants control or suppress the cough reflex and work
best for a dry, hacking cough that keeps you awake. Look for suppressant
medicines containing dextromethorphan. Don't suppress a productive cough too much (unless it is keeping
you from getting enough rest).
Cough preparation precautions
- Cough preparations can cause problems for
people who have certain health problems, such as asthma, heart disease, high blood
pressure, or an
enlarged prostate (BPH). Cough preparations may also
interact with sedatives, certain antidepressants, and other medicines. Read the
package carefully, or ask your pharmacist or doctor to help you choose.
- Cough suppressants can stifle breathing. Use them with caution
if you are older than 60 or if you have chronic
- Be careful with cold medicines. They may not be safe for young children, so check the label first. If you do give these medicines to a child, always follow the directions about how much to give based on the child’s age and weight.
- Read the label so you know what the
ingredients are. Some cough preparations contain a large percentage of alcohol,
and others contain codeine. There are many choices. Ask your pharmacist to
- Avoid cold remedies that combine medicines to treat many symptoms.
- Avoid alcohol if you are taking medicine with dextromethorphan in it.
- If you are pregnant, check with your doctor or pharmacist before
using a cough preparation.
Antihistamines dry up nasal secretions and are
commonly used to treat allergy symptoms and itching.
There are two types:
- Older, first-generation antihistamines (such as chlorpheniramine and diphenhydramine). These may make you sleepy or make it harder for you to concentrate.
They can also affect your coordination, even when they do not make you drowsy.
- Newer, second-generation antihistamines (such as cetirizine and loratadine). These have fewer side effects. Many of the newer antihistamines cause less drowsiness than older antihistamines or cause no drowsiness at all.
If your runny
nose is caused by allergies, an antihistamine may help. For cold symptoms,
home treatment and perhaps a decongestant will probably be more helpful. It is
usually best to take only single-ingredient allergy or cold preparations,
instead of those containing many active ingredients.
as chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are
single-ingredient antihistamine products.
Products such as
Coricidin, Dristan, and Triaminic contain both a decongestant and an
- Don't give antihistamines to your child unless
you've checked with the doctor first.
- Use of antihistamines to
treat the stuffiness of a cold will often thicken the mucus, making it harder
to get rid of.
- Drink extra fluids when taking
- Avoid alcohol when taking antihistamines.
- Antihistamines can cause problems for some people
with health problems such as asthma, glaucoma, epilepsy, or an enlarged
prostate. Antihistamines may also interact with certain antidepressants,
sedatives, and tranquilizers. Read the package carefully or ask your pharmacist
or doctor to help you choose one that will not cause problems.
- When you take an antihistamine that makes you drowsy, the drowsiness usually decreases with continued use. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if the medicine still makes you drowsy or if the medicine isn't helping your symptoms after 1 week. You may want to try an antihistamine that doesn't cause drowsiness.
you are pregnant, check with your doctor or pharmacist before using an