Cold medicine

Cold medicine illustration

What’s in your cold medicine?

Cold symptoms can affect us any time of year, but there’s nothing like cold weather to bring out the scratchy throat and runny nose we feel during “cold season.”

Your doctor will agree that there’s still no cure out there for the common cold. What you’ll be searching out on the pharmacy shelves is the safest, most effective way to deal with symptoms like runny nose, headache, sore throat, and fatigue that come with your cold.

Remember this warning above all others: Most over-the-counter cold remedies are appropriate for adults but not for young children. Read the label carefully and never give adult medications to a child.

Be active in knowing the active ingredients

It’s important to know the active ingredients of your cold remedy. It’s easy enough to think, “I’ll take a couple of Tylenol along with this cold capsule.” But if the active ingredient in the cold capsule also is Tylenol, you’re setting yourself up for major problems where your body can’t process this overdose of Tylenol and you begin having liver damage.

Ask your pharmacist

If you purchase your over-the-counter remedies at a pharmacy, seek out a pharmacist on duty and ask about the product you’re choosing. Ask specifically about the active ingredients:

  • Do they target the symptoms you’re experiencing?
  • Are there cautions about their use and overuse?
  • Should they be given to your child? And at what dose?

Your pharmacist can tell you about any drug interactions that could take place with the remedy you’re choosing and any prescription medicines you take.

When is it more than a common cold?

Here’s when you should seek medical attention right away:

  • If you’re having no let up of your symptoms after a week.
  • If you’re experiencing a high fever (over 103 degrees).
  • If you’re experiencing a fiery red coloring in your very sore throat.
  • If fatigue persists past a week and keeps you from returning to your routine.
Last reviewed: 
June 2017

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