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Cold and Allergy Season Relief: OTC Medications

With the Cold and Allergy season upon us once again, many people will purchase over the counter (OTC) medications to alleviate their cold and allergy symptoms.

There are four most common types of OTC products:

  1. Pain Relievers are OTC medications that relieve your headache, fever or muscle aches. There are two kinds of pain relievers, non-steroidal anti inflammatory (such as aspirin and NSAIDS) or acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). Aspirin and NSAIDS relive the pain by stopping producing of prostaglandins, which are natural chemicals in the body that irritate nerve endings. Acetaminophen relieves pain and reduces fever by blocking painful sensations in the brain.
  2. Antihistamines work by blocking the receptors that trigger itching, nasal irritation, sneezing and mucus production. The three types of antihistamines are Benadryl, Dimetapp, and Aller-Chlor and Chlor-Trimeton.
  3. Decongestants work by narrowing blood vessels in the lining of the nose causing the swollen tissue inside the nose to shrink. One powerful decongestant is Pseudo ephedrine, which is in products such as Sudafed.
  4. Cough Medicines are grouped into two types: Antitussives and expectorants. Antitussives block the cough reflex. These are products such as Delsym, Pertussin and Robitussin. Expectorants, on the other hand, thin mucus and make coughing more productive in clearing the mucus from the airway. This is found in products such as Robitussin and Tusibron.

OTC Medications

If you decide to use OTC medicines to treat your cold and allergy symptoms please consult the list below:

  • Fatigue and sore throat: Acetaminophen (Panadol, Tempra, and Tylenol) or non steroidal anti-inflammatory such as Advil or Motrin.
  • Runny Nose: Antihistamine such as Benadryl Allergy or Chlorpheniramine such as Aller Chlor, Chlo-Amine
  • Stuffy Nose:  Decongestant such as Sudafed
  • Dry Cough: Robitussin Pediatric or Drixoral
  • Moist Productive Cough:  Expectorant such as Robitussin and Tusibron

When taking medicines some foods can cause side effects such as upset stomach. Drinking alcohol is generally not a good idea while taking medications. Some medicines cause sun sensitivity, so limit your outdoor activities or protect your skin. Finally, read
the label to see what to avoid when taking over the counter medicines and follow the instructions just as you would a prescription. If you have questions, give me a call at the office, 757-488-3333.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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