Having a chilly or flu may cause a nagging cough, chills and fever — however what’s the easiest way to deal with these viruses?
Many choices can alleviate chilly and flu signs, together with over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines — and it’s vital to know the distinction.
“A prescription remedy requires authorization from a well being care supplier, and an over-the-counter remedy means that you can self-treat situations similar to colds, allergy symptoms, complications and joint ache,” Dr. Elaena Quattrocchi, a pharmacist and affiliate professor within the Division of Pharmacy Observe at Lengthy Island College in Brooklyn, New York, informed Fox Information Digital.
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“You should purchase OTC medicines in a pharmacy, but additionally in supermarkets and different shops,” she mentioned.
Prescription medicines ought to solely be taken if given to a affected person by a well being care skilled, Quattrocchi suggested.
There are lots of choices to alleviate chilly and flu signs, together with over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines — and it’s vital to know the distinction. (iStock)
Some medicines can be found in each a prescription and an OTC model, various by dimension of the doses and size of time they’re taken.
“Prescription medicines are higher for treating the flu, since there are antiviral brokers that may be prescribed,” the pharmacist informed Fox Information Digital. “The medicines should be given in a well timed style or they won’t work.”
The vast majority of dietary supplements for chilly and flu “lack proof for efficacy,” Quattrocchi famous.
If chilly signs persist or if an individual appears to get higher after which will get worse, this could possibly be an indication of an underlying an infection that requires medical consideration, she famous.
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“The one tried-and-tested remedies for influenza are the FDA-approved antivirals,” mentioned Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, chair of the division of medication and chief of infectious ailments at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Lengthy Island, New York.
“Definitely, they don’t seem to be wherever close to good, and needs to be used as applicable beneath a doctor’s steerage.”
In terms of symptom aid, Glatt mentioned, “Over-the-counter treatments will at finest present enchancment a few hours earlier, however might even have potential toxicities and unintended effects which may be worse than these few hours of symptom aid.”
“A prescription remedy requires authorization from a well being care supplier, and an over-the-counter remedy means that you can self-treat situations similar to colds, allergy symptoms, complications and joint ache,” a pharmacist defined. (iStock)
Many medicines for viral infections goal symptom management, mentioned Dr. Frederick Davis, the affiliate chair of emergency medication at Northwell Health Lengthy Island Jewish Medical Middle in New Hyde Park, New York.
“Some prescription medicines may goal a selected virus — like Paxlovid for COVID or Tamiflu in circumstances of flu,” he mentioned.
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“These pharmaceuticals may scale back the severity or length of signs.”
Potential unintended effects
OTC medicines do have some unintended effects — and simply because a drug is accessible and not using a prescription doesn’t imply it’s protected or applicable for each particular person, Davis and Glatt cautioned.
Pseudoephedrine, an ingredient discovered in lots of OTC medicines, is an efficient decongestant however can produce some unintended effects for folks, similar to issue sleeping, dizziness and nervousness, Davis identified.
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“It will probably additionally enhance blood strain, which generally is a concern for many who have already got elevated blood strain,” he mentioned.
The drug is now bought behind the pharmacy counter due to its use by some to make methamphetamines from it, Davis famous.
Sure nasal decongestant sprays, like Afrin, can relieve sinus and nasal congestion, however can’t be used for greater than three days as a result of they’ll trigger rebound congestion.
Prescription medicines ought to solely be taken if given to a affected person by a well being care skilled, a pharmacist suggested. (iStock)
One other OTC remedy referred to as phenylephrine was “taken off the shelf as a result of it was deemed ineffective,” mentioned Davis.
It will be important that people inform their well being care supplier and pharmacist about any OTC medicines they’re taking or plan to take, as some could also be contraindicated if an individual has sure underlying medical situations, Quattrocchi informed Fox Information Digital.
“Some OTC medicines can work together with prescription medicines,” she added. “Some nutritional vitamins and dietary supplements can work together as effectively.”
The pharmacist additionally warned about giving OTC medicines to kids.
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“OTC medicines ought to by no means be given to kids with out consulting their pediatricians,” she informed Fox Information Digital.
“The FDA doesn’t suggest OTC medicines for cough and chilly signs in kids youthful than 2 years of age as a result of they’ll trigger critical unintended effects.”
Quattrocchi additionally warned mother and father to by no means give a toddler any remedy that’s supposed for an grownup.
Consultants warn mother and father to by no means give a toddler any remedy that’s supposed for an grownup. (iStock/iStock)
“For youngsters, by no means use aspirin-containing merchandise to deal with a fever,” she mentioned. “Don’t use honey in kids beneath 12 months previous, as it may include micro organism that may trigger botulism.”
The pharmacist additionally emphasised the significance of studying labels fastidiously, as sure varieties of medicines have an grownup model and a child model.
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When deciding between an OTC and prescription remedy, selecting the latter could assist lower prices in some circumstances.
“OTC medicine could also be dearer than prescription medicines which are coated beneath a affected person’s well being plan,” Quattrocchi mentioned.
Pharmacists mentioned OTC medicines do have some unintended effects — and that simply because a drug is accessible and not using a prescription doesn’t imply it’s protected or applicable for each particular person. (iStock)
Moreover taking remedy, there are different strategies to assist alleviate chilly and flu signs.
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One other typical method is to get loads of relaxation, drink loads of fluids and scale back the chance of spreading it to others by means of handwashing.
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Past treating flu signs, well being specialists agree that it’s much more vital to keep away from getting influenza within the first place.
“The most effective actual prevention towards influenza is to get vaccinated, and to remain house in case you are sick in order to not expose everybody else,” Glatt, who can also be a spokesperson for the Infectious Illnesses Society of America, informed Fox Information Digital.
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