We’re officially in the depths of cold and flu season. If your household hasn’t been hit yet, consider yourself lucky. If you have, then you know how much it helps to have some over-the-counter (OTC) medications and home remedies on hand when sore throats, runny noses, and fevers start. Here are a few non-prescription items that make cold and flu season a little easier to manage.
When it comes to treating cold and flu symptoms, there are two categories of medications to have on hand:
Two of the most commonly used OTC medications, acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) and ibuprofen (e.g. Advil or Motrin), temporarily reduce fever and relieve minor aches and pains due to headache, muscular aches, and the common cold.
As many parents know, most pediatricians are quick to suggest infant Tylenol for small children, when no other OTC medication would be safe.
Ibuprofen can be very effective at reducing the inflammation in a swollen sore throat, for example. But keep in mind that Ibuprofen is an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), so it may not be right for everyone, including pregnant women.
Cold and cough medications generally fall into four categories:
These over-the-counter medications help relieve a stuffy nose and congestion. Common decongestants include:
Often used to treat allergies, antihistamines may help sneezing and runny noses. OTC antihistamines include:
These work best for dry, hacking coughs that keep you awake at night. OTC options include:
Expectorants work best for coughs that produce mucus or phlegm. Common expectorants include:
It is important to note that these medications can be dangerous if given to young children. Store your medications safely and check with your pediatrician before giving any medication to your children.
Outside of medications, there are a variety of other ways to manage cold and flu symptoms. You may want to keep the following items at home to be prepared:
Keeping your medicine cabinet (and pantry) well stocked during cold and flu season will make it much easier to help your family members stay comfortable if they come down with an illness.
If you are concerned about how to afford the cold and flu supplies your family needs, there are several ways to get discounts on over-the-counter medications. For example, did you know that in some cases you can use a prescription savings card on OTC medicine?
Finding ways to spend less at the pharmacy can help keep your family and your wallet healthy this winter.
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