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Cough & Cold Medicine
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Cough & Cold Medicine

Symptoms of a head cold include nasal and sinus congestion, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, headache, and minor pains. These can be uncomfortable and get in the way of your day. Since most people will recover on their own, medicine for a cold usually consists of over the counter remedies to help you cope with the discomfort. CVS offers a wide selection of the best cold and cough medicine to temporarily relieve your symptoms. Cough medicine is formulated with ingredients that act as a cough suppressant. These are usually available in a non-drowsy formula for daytime use, and in a drowsy formula to help control your symptoms at night. You may also wish to take an expectorant, which loosens mucus and makes it easier to cough up. For a severe cough, we recommend selecting a product specially formulated for intense symptoms, such as Mucinex. If your throat is sore from coughing, a soothing tea may bring relief. CVS carries a selection of the best cough remedies, so you can choose what works best for you.

If you prefer natural cold remedies, we have you covered. Organic products like Organic Cough Syrup use healing ingredients like honey to soothe a sore throat and reduce coughing. For little ones with a head cold, infant or children’s cold medicine may help keep them comfortable. Cold medicine for high blood pressure is also available. If you are dealing with pain associated with sinus congestion, choose a product that contains both a decongestant and a pain reliever. We recommend Advil Cold and Sinus. When you are dealing with sinus, cold, and cough symptoms, using over the counter medication for temporary relief is generally considered safe, but it is always a good idea to check in with your doctor. He or she can provide you with a professional diagnosis and advise you about the best way to manage your symptoms.

Dealing with cold or cough symptoms is never fun. We know you want information and relief. While no medication will cure a cough or a cold, over the counter remedies may help control your symptoms so that you can feel more comfortable. But which to choose? Don’t worry, CVS is here to help! Check out our answers to some of your most frequently asked questions below, but please keep in mind that nothing you read online can replace the advice of your doctor. If your symptoms are severe, prolonged, or getting in the way of your life, make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

What Is the Best Cough Medicine?

There are two main types of cough medicine. The best cough medicine for you depends on your symptoms. If you feel congested and need help getting the mucus out, look for a cough expectorant, which may help loosen mucus, reduce congestion, and help make your coughs more productive. Mucinex Expectorant Tablets. If you have a dry cough or find that the coughing itself is hurting your throat or is getting in the way of work or sleep, you’ll want to look for a cough suppressant. Sometimes called antitussives, cough suppressant medications are available over the counter from brands like DayQuil and Sudafed. Keep in mind that many of these products contain more than one active ingredient. Be sure to read the label on your cough syrup, pills, or other product carefully. Do not take multiple cough remedies that contain the same ingredient. If you have long term breathing problems, take certain medications regularly, or have other health challenges, you should check with your doctor or a pharmacist to make sure that taking an over the counter cough medicine is right for you.

How Does Cough Medicine Work?

Cough medicines work differently depending on the type of cough medicine you are taking and the active ingredients that it contains. Most cough suppressant medications contain antitussive ingredients such as dextromethorphan. Cough suppressants like dextromethorphan work by temporarily reducing your urge to cough, so that you can feel more comfortable. Over the counter cough expectorants generally contain the active ingredient guaifenesin, which is designed to help thin out and loosen mucus in your airways so that it is easier to cough up. By clearing congestion, cough expectorants may make it feel easier to breathe.

What Cough Medicine Can I Take While Pregnant?

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should check with your doctor before taking any over the counter medication. Additionally, if you are pregnant and find that you aren’t feeling well for more than a few days, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor to make sure that you and your baby get the care you need.

What Medicine Is Good for a Cold?

The best cold medicine for you will depend on what symptoms you want to address. You should know that many cold medications contain multiple active ingredients. Be aware of what the ingredients are, especially if you want to take multiple over the counter cold medicines. You should not take multiple cold remedies that contain the same ingredients. If you are unsure, or if you are taking any regular medications such as high blood pressure medication, diabetes medication, or antidepressants, check with your doctor or a pharmacist before taking any cold medications to ensure that it is safe and beneficial for you to do so.

If you have a stuffy nose or sinuses, a decongestant may help. Decongestant cold medicine that comes in liquid or pill form typically contains phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine as the active ingredient. These products are sometimes stored behind the pharmacy counter, but are available without a prescription. Theraflu Nighttime Tea is a combination product that contains the decongestant phenylephrine. If you don’t want to take a pill, you can choose to use a decongestant nasal spray. These products are typically formulated with either oxymetazoline or phenylephrine, and may in some cases work faster than decongestant pills or liquid cold medicines. However, you should avoid using a decongestant nasal spray for more than a few days in a row, because doing so could cause your congestion to get worse. (Please read the package insert to determine the exact number of days that your particular product is approved for use.)

If you are struggling with runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing, you may find relief from certain antihistamine medications. Not all antihistamine medications are effective against a cold, but some of the older antihistamines like brompheniramine and chlorpheniramine may bring relief. Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold And Cough is a combination product that contains chlorpheniramine, which may temporarily relieve your water eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. You should be aware that newer generation antihistamines, including fexofenadine and loratidine, are typically used to temporarily relieve allergy symptoms but are not considered effective against sneezing, watery eyes, or runny nose that is caused by the common cold. Antihistamine cold medicine may make you sleepy, so in some cases, it may be best to take it at night.

If you are having mild aches and pains or if you are running a slight fever, you can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease that pain and lower your fever. Fever and aches are generally mild with a cold; if you are having severe pain or running a high fever, it is a good idea to call your doctor. If at any point your fever reaches 103 F or higher, get medical attention right away.

How Does Cold Medicine Work?

Each cold medicine works differently depending on the active ingredients included in it. Decongestants such as phenylephrine work by decreasing swelling in your nose and ears in order to reduce your discomfort. Antihistamines used to relieve cold symptoms such as chlorpheniramine work by blocking not only histamines but also acetylcholine, and are thought to help dry up certain bodily fluids and relieve symptoms like watery eyes and runny nose. Pain relievers and fever reducers like ibuprofen work to reduce inflammation by blocking your body's production of certain natural substances, which in turns helps to decrease swelling, pain, and/or fever.

What Cold Medicine Can I Take While Breastfeeding or Pregnant?

If you are breastfeeding or pregnant, talk to your doctor before taking any over the counter medication. If you are feeling ill for more than a few days while breastfeeding or pregnant, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your healthcare provider to ensure that you and your child get the care you need.

Other Cough and Cold Remedies to Try

While a cough or cold can’t be cured with medication, you can make yourself more comfortable by addressing your symptoms! In addition to using cough and cold medicine when appropriate, you’ll also want to practice good self-care. Make sure you drink plenty of liquids to help you stay hydrated. If your nose or upper lip gets irritated from frequent blowing, try dabbing on a little petroleum jelly or Vaseline to soothe and protect the area. To soothe an irritated throat, try sore throat lozenges or zinc lozenges. And if at any point you have questions or concerns, don’t be afraid to contact your doctor.

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