How To Choose an Over-the-Counter Cold Remedy

Thousands of years ago, the cold was a killer disease. Luckily, our age does not have to suffer dying just because of a cold. There are many over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that could remedy the cold symptoms and cure them. The problem is, many people do not really know how to choose the most appropriate OTC cold remedy. Choosing the wrong drug might only cause side effects that could be worse than the cold itself.

Choosing Drugs Based on Cold Symptoms

Not all colds are the same. Some people suffer runny nose while others suffer sneezing and watery eyes. You should take cold drugs that will remedy the symptoms. Below is your guide to choosing an OTC drug based on the cold symptoms:

  • Congested nose. Does your nose feel like it is full of mucus? You must be suffering from nasal congestion. For that, you need a nasal decongestant. This drug can drain the mucus by shrinking the swollen membranes. There are two generic drugs used as nasal decongestant—pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. Check in your state if the pseudoephedrine is a prescription drug because it is in some states. But in some states, this drug can only bought within limits.
  • Congested chest. Instead of suffering nasal congestion, other people suffer from chest congestion. For that, you will need expectorant drugs. These drugs will moisten the phlegm and other respiratory secretions, which are the culprit for the congestion. By making the fluid less thick, the respiratory tract can already function normally. Guaifenesin is the only OTC expectorant you can find.
  • Allergic reactions. Do you sneeze, have runny nose, and suffer from watery eyes? These are allergic reactions which can be remedied by taking antihistamine drugs. Different antihistamines can be taken depending on the severity of symptoms. The considered mildest antihistamine is the loratadine and the strongest is diphenhydramine. Other antihistamine drugs are clemastine, cetirizine, and chlorpheniramine.
  • Cough. You will need cough suppressants if you suffer from cough caused by irritation in the lungs or throat. But take note that almost all of the cough suppressants can cause drowsiness. Two generic drugs used as cough suppressants are dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine.
  • Pain. Sometimes, cold can cause pain in some areas of the body. For that, you will need analgesics to get relief. Aspirin, ibruprofen, and acetaminophen can not only relieve pain but can lower fever, too.

It is best to buy one drug for one cold symptom. Most drugs today can be found in combination with different drugs like a nasal decongestant and an antihistamine. You might suffer from over dosage with combination drugs. Better stick with using drugs without any combination.

More Tips and Natural Remedies

You may also consider home remedies before you take OTC cold remedies. Chicken soup is a popular and delicious way to treat cold. Although there is no scientific study to prove this, many cold sufferers swear to the effectiveness of chicken soup. Taking more fruits rich in Vitamin C or its supplement can help, too. Echinacea can lessen the cold duration while eating spicy foods give relief to some cold symptoms like congestions. Steam bath and vaporizer can also help a lot to treat your cold.

The best about natural cold remedies is that they don’t post as grave or as many side effects as the OTC drugs. But the OTC drugs can give you the fastest and most reliable relief. Perhaps for now, you can take OTC drugs. But make sure that you choose the best and use the drugs as recommended by your doctor.


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