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PALESTINE, December 29, 2012--While last year’s cold and flu season was mild, experts say this year could bring you a wallop of sniffles and sneezes.
While there is no cure for the cold or flu, despite what mom says about her soup, over-the-counter (OTC) medications can provide relief for the most common symptoms. And these guidelines can help you better navigate the cold and flu aisle:
Sneezing Got You Down?
OTC antihistamines can provide relief from sneezing, runny noses and watery eyes by blocking the action of histamine, a chemical in the body that triggers congestion and upper respiratory discomfort.
Cough suppressants, also known as antitussives, basically tell your brain to stop coughing. One commonly used cough suppressant is dextromethorphan, which relieves cough symptoms but doesn't speed recovery.
If you’re producing mucus, however, don’t take a cough suppressant. Instead, look for an expectorant, a medicine that helps thin the mucus in the lungs and soothe an irritated respiratory tract.
All Clogged Up
Decongestants like pseudoephedrine (PSE) relieve a stuffy nose and congestion by actually narrowing the blood vessels in nasal passages so you can breathe more easily.
PSEs are now located behind the pharmacy counter because they are an ingredient that can be used to make the illegal drug methamphetamine (meth). Rest assured though, PSE has been safely used for decades.
Stop the Pain
If your symptoms include muscle aches or high fever, consider an analgesic or painkiller. Most OTC analgesics fall in to two categories: acetaminophen or NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Both medications can reduce fever and ease aches and pains from the flu or cold.
Help ease throat pain with cough drops or throat spray. While not a cure-all, cough drops or hard candy can help provide relief from a dry, tickling cough. Also consider taking a warm shower or using a vaporizer to increase the moisture of indoor air.
No matter what your symptoms are, it’s important to get some rest and stay hydrated. Doctors recommend six to eight hours of sleep every night to fight and prevent illnesses and keep the immune system healthy.
If you have any questions or doubts about which medications may be best for you, talk with your pharmacist. And if symptoms worsen or last for more than two weeks, be sure to see your doctor.
More tips on how to prevent and treat a cold or the flu can be found at www.CDC.gov.
Don’t needlessly suffer this season. With the right treatment, you can help alleviate your cold and flu symptoms.
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