While doctors don’t yet have a cure for the common cold, your pharmacist does have medications to help you relieve cold symptoms and weather your cold more comfortably. The following cold remedies will offer relief from the symptoms of cold and flu.
Head and Body Aches
Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin give all-purpose pain relief for your whole body including headache, body ache, fever, earache, and sore throat. Do not give aspirin to children with cold or flu symptoms because it has been linked to the potentially fatal Reyes Syndrome.
Mild decongestants containing pseudoephedrine are effective in unclogging a stuffy nose and relieving cold symptoms. However, it can cause sleeplessness and jitteriness in some people, particularly children. Nasal sprays and drops, which constrict blood vessels in the nasal passages, can also unstuff your nose.
Some of these products contain decongestants, some salt water. Do not exceed the recommended dosage of medicated nasal products as overuse can cause the opposite effect increased swelling after the medication wears off.
A cool mist humidifier or warm mist vaporizer can also relieve cold symptoms by reducing nasal congestion. Nasal sprays and deoncgestants are also effective in relieving an earache when it is caused by nasal congestion blocking the eustachian tubes. A heating pad set at a low temperature and held against the ear also helps reduce pain.
Sneezing, Runny Nose, Sore Throat
Antihistamine medications relieve cold and flu symptoms by reducing sneezing and runny nose; however, they may also cause drowsiness and overly dry nasal passages. In addition to acetaminophen or ibuprofen, treat sore throat pain with sprays and lozenges that contain phenol, an anesthetic. Keep the throat moist by drinking lots of fluid, gargling with salt water and sucking on hard candies.
Coughs caused by colds and flu are usually the result of nasal secretions that drain into and tickle the throat. Medications that dry up nasal passages, therefore, can reduce coughing. Antihistamines containing diphenhydramine and decongestants containing pseudoephedrine are usually recommended. To suppress a cough, use antitussives that contain codeine phosphate, or codeine sulfate.
Ointments that are rubbed on the chest or used in vaporizers and that contain camphor or menthol can also be helpful in calming a cough.
Flu and cold symptoms are similar, although flu symptoms are more severe and include fever, body aches, and fatigue. You can relieve flu and cold symptoms effectively with the medications recommended for colds. The prescription drug amantadine reduces the severity of flu symptoms if taken within the first two days of the flu’s onset. Side effects of amantadine may cause nervousness and sleeplessness.
Rimantadine is a drug used to relieve flu symptoms that may not cause these same side effects. As with any prescription or over-the-counter medication, always follow the directions on the package and never exceed the recommended dosage.
For colds and flu, stop using the medication as soon as the symptoms disappear. Some of these medications are not recommended for pregnant and nursing women, children and those with heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.