Hudson News

Home News Happenings Health Advice Cold or Flu: What Medications Should I Use?

April 1, 2019 | Happenings, Health Advice

Cold or Flu: What Medications Should I Use?

With so many variables in life keeping us on our toes, one thing always remains a constant: cold and flu season. Every year when sickness falls upon us, we find ourselves trying to differentiate between which one we might have. There are some key symptoms to each, and they can vary when it comes to treatment. With so many medications to choose from on the shelves, it can be overwhelming to make a decision.

A Few Key Differences

Because colds and the flu are so similar, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which you are suffering from. In short, a cold is usually more mild than the flu. See the chart below for from the CDC for a list of common symptoms:

Cold Treatments

Stuffy and runny nose, sore throat, sneezing and, to a lesser extent, mild chest discomfort are the primary traits of a cold. The recommended treatment options are:

  • Antihistamines (Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra)
  • Nasal Decongestants (Sudafed, Afrin, Sudafed PE)
  • Nasal Corticosteroid Sprays (Flonase, Nasacort)
  • Pain Relievers (Tylenol, Advil, Aleve)

Other remedies such as gargling with warm salt water, saline nasal rinses, and supplements such as Vitamin C, Echinacea and Zinc can be very helpful as well. Eating a hot bowl of chicken soup might sound cliché, but it really is soothing and helpful in combating congestion. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. Too often people with a cold skip this step and risk dehydration, which can lead to a much longer recovery time.

Flu Treatments

While a flu test is required to be officially diagnosed with the flu, the severity of symptoms is usually enough for us to distinguish on our own. When self treating for the flu, you can start by using the above mentioned products for a cold. The cold symptoms will all likely be present during your flu as well. You’ll also be faced with the added fever and chills, headache and cough. The treatment for these include:

  • Cough Suppressant (Robitussin, Delsym)
  • Expectorant (Mucinex)
  • Vapor Rub (Vicks)

In addition to the supplements mentioned before, Oscillococcinum and Elderberry have been recently recommended by healthcare professionals to boost immunity. Adding moisture into the air you are breathing at home is beneficial as well. With a vaporizer you can even add menthol to the water for added relief. For a fever, consider placing a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead to aid in bringing down your body temperature. Pain relievers, of course, will diminish a fever as well.

As with anytime you are reaching for over-the-counter medication, be sure to consult your pharmacist or physician if you have any health concerns. Certain medications are not safe to take if you are pregnant or have high blood pressure. Be sure to read the directions carefully, especially if you’re giving them to children. There are many combination products available to cut down on the amount of pills you have to take, such as Zyrtec-D, Mucinex-D and others.

Feel better soon,
Hudson Physicians