As if suffering from the common cold is not already bad enough as it is, going through over the counter cold medicines and choosing which ones will work best for you can be a confusing task because of the vast array of options. There are literally so many different medicines that deal with the same symptoms that you cannot figure out which ones are going to be good for you. The dizzying effects of the cold don’t help the cause either. It is no reason to worry though.
If you have the right information, fixing the common cold with over the counter medicine becomes an easy task. You just need to figure out how to take the right medicine for the symptoms and all that requires is a little information. To give you that information, we have put together this guide for over the counter medicine that can help fix your cold. Keep it in mind that this is a guide for fixing the common cold for adults. If you’re looking for solutions for kids, you are better off not taking any risks and talking to a doctor instead.
Okay, so let’s get into it, shall we?
Choosing Over the Counter Cold Medicines
When it comes to all the different kinds of over the counter cold medicines, you have to get this concept straight: A lot of the different brands have pretty much similar drugs in them. Your selection of the medicine should be based on the basic drugs they contain that battle the different symptoms of the common cold. This list that we have put together for you is highlighting the different drugs contained in medicines for the common cold and your selection of brands should be based on these.
Antihistamines are found in over the counter medicine that treat symptoms that resemble those of allergic reactions. The runny nose, sneezing and the watery eyes and itching all go away when you take antihistamines. There are several different kinds of antihistamines like Benadryl (it has diphenhydramine) and Dimetapp (it has brompheniramine). While these drugs aren’t specifically made for the common cold, they do help you go to sleep at night.
You have to keep in mind that the side effect of some antihistamines is that they make you sleepy. That’s why it’s better to avoid taking them during the day.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs for short are effective in reducing the fever and easing the aches that you might be experiencing when you have the common cold. They are also a good choice to treat a sore throat. A lot of the cold medicines you buy over the counter cold medicines contain NSAIDs in them because of their effectiveness to treat multiple symptoms of the common cold.
With any medicine you take, it is better to follow precautionary measures. When it comes to NSAIDs, you should not take any if you’re suffering from an upset stomach or stomach ulcers. Since NSAIDs work for a number of different symptoms, if you’re already taking them to treat something else like blood clots, it is better for you to refer to your doctor before you take them for cold medicine.
When you’re suffering from a stuffy nose, your best bet is to take decongestants. The stuffy nose you experience is because of swelling in the nasal cavity and in the sinuses. What the decongestants do is that they go in and they reduce the swelling in the nose and the sinuses, allowing you to breathe a little easier. Phenylephrine and pseudophedrine are two common types of decongestants.
When it comes to decongestants, some people have the tendency to experience a faster heartbeat. This reaction is only because with some individuals, the body metabolizes the drug in a different way. It’s not recommended to people who have high blood pressure problems.
A key component in the popularly used Tylenol, acetaminophen is a drug found in many different cold medicines. It is much easier on the stomach than NSAIDs and it battles the fever and aches just as well if not better than the NSAIDs.
Because of the fact that acetaminophens can be a bit tasking on the liver, it is not recommended for people who happen to consume a lot of alcohol. It is also not recommended for people who have liver problems like cirrhosis or hepatitis – and as always, you need to make sure that even if acetaminophens are suitable for you, you should not take any more than the recommended dosage.
5. Nasal Decongestants
Nasal decongestant sprays like oxymetazolin are decongestants that are directly delivered to the nose through the nasal cavity. They’re very good at clearing up the congestion in your nose and they act quickly.
The thing is, you should not use them too often. If you use nasal sprays for 2 to 3 days in a row, you are putting yourself at the risk of making the infection worse because your body develops a dependency problem. Also, people with high blood pressure should avoid these.
6. Cough Suppressants
Medications that are cough suppressants are also known as antitussives. They are good at temporarily giving you relief from incessant coughing if they contain compounds like dextromethorphan. They act by working on the part of the brain which signals the need to cough. They are recommended for dry coughs without the phlegm.
People who have to stay absolutely alert while they are working should try to avoid taking it during the work day because antitussives tend to make a person drowsy.
Expectorants get to work on relieving you from a coughing problem by targeting the mucus accumulated in the chest and loosening it up. This allows your body to expel the mucus comparatively in an easier manner when you cough. They’re recommended for chest infections that cause wet coughing (coughing with a lot of phlegm).
While they’re pretty much okay for everybody to take, they can cause a headache to some people and possibly even nausea in some cases.
Final Thoughts For Over the Counter Cold Medicines
Now that you know about the different over the counter cold medicines and and what they can do for your cold symptoms, you can decide on which medicine to take based on which of these they contain. One thing that is absolutely crucial for you to remember is that if you do have two medicines that belong to the same class of drugs, you should talk to a doctor before you take them. Lastly, just make sure you’re taking the recommended dosage of the medicine. Safety always comes first.