The time for cold medicines is upon us again. As fall begins to turn into winter, the air gets chilly and the common cold is in full swing. Millions of Americans are expected to catch the virus this year – and many get it more than once. Over-the-counter medicines can help you get through the cold season without the expense of a doctor’s visit. But there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the best cold medicines.
OTC medications for the common cold include expectorants and antihistamines. Expectorants make it easier to cough while antihistamines inhibit the production of histamine, a chemical that triggers a runny nose and watery eyes. Antihistamines may also dry out postnasal drip, a buildup of mucus at the back of the throat. These medicines can help relieve symptoms and help the person sleep.
A common type of cold medicine is acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol. Acetaminophen works primarily as a fever reducer and can also help with cold-related aches and pains. Although acetaminophen is generally safe when taken as directed, it can cause liver damage if taken in high enough doses. Don’t exceed 3,000 mg of acetaminophen per day.
When selecting cough and cold medicines, make sure to consult your health care provider or pharmacist before giving your child a medicine. Remember that over-the-counter cold preparations offer only minor relief, and some are even dangerous for young children. Many cough and cold medicines contain acetaminophen, which is toxic to the liver in large doses. A child’s health depends on whether or not they are prescribed the right medicine for their specific condition.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers are also helpful in the fight against the cold virus. Some of these medicines contain acetaminophen, while others contain ibuprofen. They are not appropriate for infants under 6 months of age. If you’re giving ibuprofen to an infant, you should consult your doctor if your child is under six months of age. Also, be sure not to give children aspirin or acetaminophen.
Over-the-counter cold medicines can help reduce coughing and relieve sore throat and fever. But they are not “perfect.” Despite their claims, these medications only offer temporary relief. Your doctor will likely recommend the best option for you and your child. If your doctor approves, you can use cold medicines with the assurance of knowing you’re on the right path to recovery. And if the cold persists for more than one day, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics.
Although cold medicines can provide temporary relief, they are not a long-term solution. While they may be a short-term solution for mild symptoms, they don’t cure the cold virus and may have side effects. Fortunately, colds are usually curable with rest, fluids, and proper treatment. If symptoms don’t disappear after a week, it’s time to see a doctor. You can also try home remedies for the cold, such as chicken soup.