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Posts Tagged ‘Common Cold’

Common Cold Blues. By Our February Student Pharmacist, Ashley Sullivan, Who Sadly Has Suffered Her Share of Colds and Stuffiness This Month.


It’s that time of year: the common cold has set in and if you haven’t had it yet, you probably will soon—or maybe you’re one of the unlucky ones who have already had it multiple times.

This winter has been a time of illness for many people and everyone seeks over-the-counter (OTC) medications to help them get through their day-to-day living activities. But which products should you actually buy? The cough and cold aisle at your local pharmacy can be daunting. Advil cold and sinus, Nyquil, Tylenol cold, Mucinex DM, Allegra D….the list goes on!

The key to picking a product that will help get you through the misery of being ill is identifying which symptoms you have and what you need to treat them. Combo products are great if you have all the symptoms, but you may be taking unnecessary medication or missing something you could benefit from.

If you’re ever confused about what you should take, don’t forget to seek help from your pharmacist. Following is a list of common cold symptoms and the drugs that treat them so you can make an informed decision when treating yourself.

For aches and pains and a fever that is 100.5 degrees or higher, Tylenol (acetaminophen) is the best choice.

For a sore throat, gargle salt water as often as you like (1/2 tsp salt in one cup of water) or use products like Cepacol which may help numb the area – be careful, though, lozenges can be a choking hazard.

For sinus congestion (stuffy nose), pseudoephedrine is the best choice. It’s behind the counter in the pharmacy. All products that have “D” in their name contain pseudoephedrine. Oxymetazoline (Afrin) nasal spray is also helpful, but you should only use it for three days! More than three days use may result in rebound congestion which worsens mucus and congestion. Another OTC choice is phenylephrine, a similar product to pseudoephedrine, but which doesn’t work as well; however, it’s an option if you have to buy something when the pharmacy is closed.

For chest congestion, guaifenesin (Mucinex) is the only medication option. If you feel like you can cough mucus up, this may be a good choice. Running a humidifier or vaporizer also helps with chest and sinus congestion. Vicks vapor rub is a topical option to break up congestion.

For cough suppression (if coughing is preventing you from sleeping, talking, or completing daily tasks), dextromethorphan is the medication you’ll need. Products that have “DM” in their names contain dextromethorphan.

For runny nose and watery eyes, take an antihistamine. Non-drowsy antihistamines include cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), and fexofenadine (Allegra). The most common sedating antihistamine is diphenhydramine (Benadryl), but others you may see in combo products include doxylamine, chlorpheniramine, and brompheniramine. Sedating antihistamines may also help suppress coughing and encourage sleep.

Overall, eating a balanced diet and taking vitamins helps prevent colds and fight them off once you have one.

Eating spicy foods or hot soups may help break up mucus and congestion.

Zinc may shorten the duration of the cold if taken during the first 24 hours after symptoms start.

Drinking plenty of water is very important to keep your body hydrated. Water also helps break up mucus and congestion, as well.

Aromatherapy may help with some cold symptoms, as well. Eucalyptus (diluted) applied to the chest helps with chest congestion. Peppermint or eucalyptus (inhaled) helps with stuffiness. Lavender, cedar, and lemon (diffused) may soothe nasal passages. Inhaling menthol also helps break up sinus congestion. Essential oils should be of good quality and used as directed on packaging labels. Any questions or concerns should be addressed with a physician.




The Common Cold. By Our November Student Pharmacist, Melissa Carlone.

As the beauty of fall radiates at it’s brightest and you enjoy a warm and comforting cup of hot chocolate near the fireplace, life seems pretty darn good! While fall can be a calming and festive season, it also means that winter is not too far away. This is the time when the common cold makes it’s way around town. Here are a few tips about the common cold including: causes, symptoms, treatment, prevention, and when to make a visit to the doctor.

What causes the common cold?

  • Contrary to what you may think, the common cold is caused by viruses and not bacteria.
  • There are over 200 different viruses that can cause cold symptoms.
  • 30-50% are called rhinoviruses that typically do not progress to serious illness.
  • Viruses survive better in dry, cold environments.
  • As the weather gets colder, people spend more time indoors, which allows for the viruses to be more easily passed from person to person.
  • The cold, dry air can also make the lining of your nose dry, putting you at more risk for viral infection.
  • Cold temperature itself has not been shown to increase your chance of getting a cold!

What are the symptoms?

  • Symptoms usually begin 2 to 3 days after infection and include:
    • Cough
    • Sneezing
    • Sore throat
    • Stuffy nose and/or swelling of your sinuses
    • Headache
    • Tiredness
    • These symptoms usually last 7-10 days and will go away on their own.
    • Fever is uncommon, but may be more common in children.

I don’t feel good, what should I do?

  • There is no cure, but there are a few things you can do to help manage your symptoms:
    • REST!! You can never get enough rest when your body is under stress and trying to fight an infection.
    • Drink plenty of fluids.
    • Gargle with warm salt water for a scratchy or sore throat.
    • Use Vaseline to soothe a dry nose.
    • Over-the-counter medications can also be used to manage symptoms.
      • Stop by the pharmacy counter if you ever have questions about which medication to choose. We are here for YOU!
      • Decongestants or saline nasal sprays can help a stuffy nose.
      • Antihistamines can help a runny nose and some can be used at night to help you sleep.
      • Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil), can help relieve headaches, aches, and pains and they also work to lower fevers.
      • Cough suppressants are available, as well, such as dextromethorphan or cough drops.
      • For information on choosing cold products, visit: http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/cold-medicine-treatment-when-what-how

How can I prevent transmission of the common cold?

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (alcohol-based products can be used as well).
  • The virus can live up to 3 hours on objects in your home, so make sure to keep your surfaces clean!
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.

When should I call my doctor?

  • If your cold is lasting longer than 2 weeks.
  • If you have a fever over 100.4°F
  • If you have a fever that lasts longer than 3 days.
  • If you are coughing up mucus, especially if it is a dark brown color.
  • If you are having trouble breathing.

The common cold is not called “common” because it is rare, so make sure to take the proper precautions to stay safe and healthy this winter. Don’t forget to enjoy the snow as it makes itself more plentiful, pick up a good book, check out some new movies, or get a head start on the holiday season!

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