Health Team

Pharmacy choices can fight flu, cold, crud

Posted January 3, 2013

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.

Constant Cough

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.

If you’re clogged up, consider treating your symptoms and doing your part to keep your community safer at the same time. Ask your pharmacist about new Nexafed 30mg pseudoephedrine HCl tablets, the next-generation PSE that provides the same effective cold and allergy relief from standard PSEs, but with technology that disrupts the extraction and conversion of pseudoephedrine into methamphetamine.

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.

Scratchy Throat

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

Don’t needlessly suffer this season. With the right treatment, you can help alleviate your cold and flu symptoms.


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  • April NC Born Jan 3, 2013

    OTC can help to fight seasonal flu/cold/crud. At least until the state legislators decide we have to have a prescription for them as they have been debating about.

  • Screw WrAl Jan 3, 2013

    we are screwed.

  • grayboomerang Jan 3, 2013

    Uhavenoclu...I agree with you....outdoor exercise will also strengthen your immune system. I run 4-10 miles every day and I do believe I'm healthier for it...a little bit of outdoor sweat is good.

  • grayboomerang Jan 3, 2013

    A nurse gave me the best tip....gargle with Apple Cider Vinegar...between that and taking Vitamin C, garlic, lots of hot tea and rubbing Vapor Rub on my feet/putting socks on....I've gotten a grasp on this bug that tried to invade my body 24 hours ago. I don't like taking cold med drugs..I think they are useless...they don't cure anything.

  • SirWired Jan 3, 2013

    Anderson - "Someone gave me some Pure Body Extra Strength, which is a viral interrupter, meaning it stops the replication of a virus, so it stops the flu in its tracks."

    It does no such thing; looking at the manufacturer's website it's a bottle of proverbial Snake Oil. It makes a bunch of pseudo-scientific claims that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Example: They claim to "suspend [their product] inside water molecules". Truth: Basic physics here... you can't "suspend" anything "inside" a molecule, no matter how finely you grind it. (And, interestingly, stopping viral replication isn't one of their claims...)

    Where to buy it? Who knows, but I suspect that drinking water out of the tap, and spraying your nose with saline are far more effective, and a LOT cheaper.

    Pro Consumer Tip: Any product that promises to "detoxify" you is lying.

  • Uhavenoclu Jan 3, 2013

    I was in the mountains for a fewweekends in a row in 15-20 degree weather at night and 28 during the day with just a sweatshirt on and sorry to say this. ...
    I'M VERY HEALTHY. ....

  • SirWired Jan 3, 2013

    How does ME buying Nexafed "Make my community safer"? I'm not the one selling the Sudafed on the black market... It only makes the community safer if Nexafed is the only product available and the people that DO turn Sudafed into Meth can no longer get the old version.

  • kikinc Jan 3, 2013

    horsyset- Here's where you can buy it in Canada. It is still made, but the dexbrompheniramine maleate isn't approved for use in the US, which is why it was pulled of the market. What other drugs have you tried?

  • Half Red Half Blue Jan 3, 2013

    Down a bottle of moonshine or everclear. Knock yourself out till the virus is gone.

  • cdtech20059 Jan 3, 2013

    Drixoral is available in Canada. Order online.