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Cold and flu symptoms can make you ill enough to keep you from your regular activities for several days. Find out how to relieve them.
A cold and the flu are respiratory infections both caused by viruses. Antibiotics are ineffective because they only act against bacteria. The best way to protect against infection is to focus on prevention (wash hands frequently, avoid close contact with infected individuals, etc.).
One of the immune system's functions is to fight colds and the flu. It is helpful to rest and drink plenty of liquids. You can relieve your symptoms using over-the-counter medications until you get better.
The active ingredient used for a dry cough is Dextromethorphan (DM), which is found in various oral medications in syrup or pill form. If you have lung problems or if you are taking other medications, it is preferable to consult your pharmacist before taking a product containing DM.
There are other cough syrups available from your pharmacist upon request. Over-the-counter syrups with codeine are generally no more effective than those without. Moreover, they cause drowsiness.
For a moist cough (with secretions), guaifenesin-based syrups can help you expectorate (spit). This medication is available alone or sometimes combined with DM or other substances (such as menthol).
You can use a decongestant in pill or nasal spray form to relieve nasal congestion. Tablets are effective, but can cause side effects (e.g. trembling, palpitations, excitation). Therefore, they should not be taken before bedtime. Insomnia caused by decongestants can be reduced by using a decongestant containing an antihistamine to relieve runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.
Nasal sprays have the advantage of causing few side effects, but their use must be limited to a maximum of five consecutive days, as they can be habit-forming. Saline nasal sprays, rinces or drops are a good option for the natural relief of nasal symptoms. These products are suitable for people of all ages, including babies and young children.
Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are recommended to relieve all these symptoms. Due to its effective and safe profile, acetaminophen is often considered the first choice. Ibuprofen has an increased risk of side effects (digestive and others), and its use is not suitable for everyone. Speak to your healthcare professional before you buy it over-the-counter.
For a sore throat, you can also use lozenges. Some of them have an anesthetic effect that "numbs" the throat. Make sure to follow the maximum number recommended. Ask your pharmacist for help in choosing among the wide range of lozenges available on the market.
Various products combine several medications in a single formulation. Some may not be suitable for you because of your age, health, medical history, and other medications you take.
Always speak to your pharmacist if you have questions about a cold, the flu and the ways to relieve their symptoms.
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