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Best Cold Remedies

December 9, 2013, 6:21 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Best Cold Remedies

You've probably heard that antibiotics don't do anything to help you fight the common cold, which is caused by a virus.

While there is no cure, there are a number of medications designed to help ease your symptoms. And with dozens of different drugs, it can be difficult to decide which over-the-counter medication is best for your symptoms.

"As soon as I feel a cold coming on, I usually take Zicam," 82-year-old Gertie Smith said.

But Smith says she's not exactly sure what the best medication is.

"The best thing to do is to look at the back at the ingredients to figure out what actually works. You can pay a lot of money for the same ingredient that you can pay for minimal cost," Lewis Drug Pharmacy Director Bill Ladwig said.

Ladwig says if you're feeling congested, you might want to ask a pharmacist for a product that's behind the counter.

"The decongestant Sudafed you have to get behind the counter now. That's still the best thing for congestion. It decreases swelling and allows you to breathe easier," Ladwig said.

You might want to try a product such as Claritin or Zyrtec if you're dealing with a runny nose.

"The antihistamines are products you use to dry you up. That's good old Benadryl," Ladwig says.

For minor aches or pains, you can try Tylenol or Ibuprofen. For a cough, which medication you should take depends on the type of cough. Only take a product designed to prevent coughing if you have a nonproductive, dry cough.

"A productive cough is when you cough and bring up phlegm. The lungs are a one-way mechanism and the only way you can get stuff out of your lungs is to cough it up. That's what the cough is for. It's a defense mechanism," Ladwig said.

Along with over-the-counter medication, it also helps to stay hydrated.

“Drinking, eating well, all those things make a healthy individual," Ladwig said.

But of course the best thing to do is prevent a cold in the first place, which is exactly what Smith hopes to do this winter.

Ladwig says over-the-counter cough and cold medicines aren't recommended for children younger than two.

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