If you have a dry cough, runny nose, headache and nasal congestion, do you purchase something that takes care of all of these symptoms? You may have all or most of the symptoms that are listed on the box at the beginning of your cough, cold or flu symptoms, right? What happens in two days when you only have nasal congestion and a headache? I notice that people continue to take that same multi-symptom medication, even though they don’t have the symptoms anymore. Why would you take medications for a runny nose and a dry cough, when you don’t have any of these symptoms, eh? Why would anyone take medication just to take medication? I will begin by saying that I am not a fan of the multi-symptom cough, cold and flu remedies that are sold over-the-counter. This is the reason why I do not encourage patients to choose them.
I have generated a list of recommended medications that you should have at home for this cough, cold and flu season. You’ll notice that these are single-symptom medications. My suggestion for you is to write the symptom that it is used for with a marker on the front of the box/bottle before putting it away (see photo to the left). You may already know how horrible a cough, cold or flu can get, and I can reassure you that the last thing you want to do is to read the boxes/bottles of medication to see what they’re for. You still have to read the box/bottle for the directions, but at least you can grab the right medication from your storage area and start reading the directions for use right away because you already have the reason for use in large print.
I do not have any affiliations with any of the companies that manufacture the medications listed below.
Dr. Dee’s Recommendations
|Dry Cough||Dextromethorphan (Delsym®)|
|Chest Congestion (Mucus in Chest)||Guaifenesin (Mucinex®)-Drink plenty of water|
|Nasal Congestion (Stuffy Nose)||Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®)-Do not take this too late at night. ***Not for patients with high blood pressure|
|Sore Throat||Cepacol® Lozenges|
|Headache/Body Aches||Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or Ibuprofen (Motrin®/Advil®)-Take ibuprofen with food|
|Runny Nose, Sneezing||Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®)-Causes drowsiness|
Not everyone is recommended to take all of these medications. For example, the patients whose blood pressure is not controlled should not take pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®). For our elders, diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) may not be the right choice for them because of the drowsiness effect of the medication, which can increase their risk of falls, and it’s overall drying effect, which can cause them to become confused and forgetful. Our elders with prostate issues should not take diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) either, since it may worsen symptoms.
If you regularly get your yearly physical, and are young without any disease states, then this list of recommendations is a great list to have. If you have any disease-states, please check with your local pharmacist to see if it is the best choice for you with the disease-state that you have.
Store brand medications are also just as good. I use drugstore brand merchandise because it is better for my pocket. If you’re buying store brand over-the-counter medications (CVS, Rite-Aid, Sav-On, Target, Walgreen’s, Walmart, etc.), then just look for the active ingredients that I have listed in the table. For instance, the store-brand for Benadryl® would generally be located next to Benadryl® and will have the active ingredient listed as diphenhydramine, in tiny writing. Look out for product line extensions as well. Benadryl® comes in a Benadryl-D® which combines a nasal decongestant with diphenhydramine (Benadryl®). Mucinex® comes as Mucinex DM® (contains guaifenesin and dextromethorphan) as well as Mucinex D® (contains guaifenesin and a nasal decongestant).
I hope you think twice about reaching for that multi-symptom over-the-counter cough, cold or flu remedy. As stated in my first article, you, as the patient, are safer when you know what medications you are taking and for what purpose. It does not make sense for you to take medications for symptoms that you are not having. Think about it. If you have any questions, please feel free to use the space below and “just ask”.