Having a cough or flu may cause us to feel completely miserable. So much so that we end up missing school or work because of these viruses. Many adults take medications using a free pill reminder app or go to the doctor searching for a quick solution. But remember that there is no quick fix for these viruses.
Most cold and cough problems are caused by viruses, and unfortunately, a virus must run its course. A typical cold or flu virus lasts for up to 7-14 days. Many individuals opt for antibiotics to cure these conditions but these medications are only effective against bacteria, not viruses. As a result, their condition keeps getting worse.
According to doctors, drinking plenty of water and getting some rest is the best way to treat a cold or flu. However, most patients opt for over-the-counter (OTC) medications. But are they really safe for our health? Let’s take a detailed look.
What Are the Uses of Cold, Flu and Cough Medication?
These medications treat symptoms caused by the common cold, flu, cough, and other similar viruses. Some examples of these drugs include:
- Dextromethorphan: Suppresses cough.
- Decongestants: Relieve stuffy nose.
- Acetaminophen relieves pain and reduces fever.
However, these products aren’t considered to be safe or effective for children younger than 6 years. Therefore, doctors strictly advise against using these to treat cold symptoms in children aged 6 or below.
Moreover, if not taken properly, these meds may cause serious side effects. To avoid any possible side effects, carefully follow all directions on the product label. Some common direction you may find on the label will include:
- Do not use this medication to make a child sleepy.
- Do not give your child other medications that may contain the same or similar ingredients.
- Ask your specialist to learn about other ways to cure cold and cough symptoms.
What Are the Side Effects of These Medications?
The list of common side effects of cough, flu, and cold medication include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Blurred vision
- Upset stomach
- Severe dizziness
- Trouble urinating
- Trouble breathing
- Dry mouth/nose/throat.
If you start to notice any of these side effects, tell your doctor or pharmacist right away.
Serious allergic reactions (rash, itching, swelling) to these meds are rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice symptoms of these reactions.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. Many others may occur depending on your dosage and condition. Contact your specialist for detailed information.
What Are Some Precautions Related to These Products?
Before taking these meds, tell your specialist if you have allergic reactions to any of their ingredients. The ingredients of these products can sometimes cause allergic reactions or other health complications when not used as advised by a doctor.
If you have any of these problems:
- Breathing problems (asthma, emphysema)
- Heart problems
- High blood pressure
- Kidney problems
- Liver disease
- Stomach/intestinal problems
- Overactive thyroid
- Urination problems
consult your specialist before using these medications.
Do not use these medications with alcohol or marijuana as they will make you more dizzy or drowsy. Also, do not drive or use machinery when under the influence of these drugs as they may reduce alertness or cause blurred vision.
Before undergoing surgery, tell your healthcare specialist that you are taking these medications using medication app reminder.
Older patients may be more sensitive to the side effects of these drugs. They should consult their specialist before taking cold and flu drugs.
Pregnant women must also avoid these medications and should only use them when advised by the doctor.
Breastfeeding moms should consult their doctors before taking these medications as the ingredients of these products may pass into breast milk and negatively affect the nursing infant.
How to Use These Medications Properly?
First of all, read directions on the label before you start using any medication. Then take the medication as prescribed by your doctor.
You can take these medications by mouth with or without food. If you have stomach problems, taking them with milk can help too.
If you are taking these medications in liquid form, make sure to take the right among using a special measuring spoon – not a household spoon as it may give you the wrong measurement. Also, shake the bottle well before each dose.
Do not crush, break, or chew extended-release capsules. Swallow them whole. Breaking or splitting these meds can increase the risk of side effects. The only time these tablets/capsules should be split is when your doctor tells you to do so.
Chewable meds should be chewed thoroughly before swallowing.
Do not increase the dose without your doctor’s recommendation. Take your medications more frequently using medication reminder app and do not use them for a longer period than recommended. Abusing these medications may result in serious side effects that can sometimes result in death.
If your condition persists or becomes worse instead of improving, tell your doctor. This may be the sign of a serious medical problem and should be checked by a specialist.
What to Do In Case of Overdose?
If you have overdosed and side effects such as severe headache or breathing troubles are starting to appear, get medical attention right away. Some common overdose symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain, loss of appetite, sweating, confusion, flushing, hallucinations, yellow eyes/skin, extreme tiredness, agitation, dark urine, loss of coordination, loss of consciousness, seizures drowsiness, and seizures.