Cold and flu season: What can actually help with symptoms?

Cold and flu season: What can actually help with symptoms?

Dallas (NewsNation) — Cold and flu season is just starting to ramp up, and now, the go-to medication people have been taking for years might not actually work.

Back in September, an FDA panel found a key ingredient in most over-the-counter medicines — phenylephrine — doesn’t do anything to help relieve congestion.

Medicines like Dayquil or Sudafed PE have the active ingredient in them and they do help with some symptoms — just not congestion.

Plus, some drugstores have already taken it off their shelves.

So, what are people supposed to use when they come down with an illness?

For starters, Americans should consult with a pharmacist behind the counter.

“We want a decongestant that’s like Sudafed that’s behind the counter,” Dr. Karl Minges, a public health professor at the Univerity of New Haven, said.

Medicines that contain pseudoephedrine work to treat congestion, according to health professionals. However, they are kept behind the counter because it can be used to make meth. States have age requirements for purchase and kids under 6 years old should not take it.

“Lots of sick day items adults may want to have are pain relievers Tylenol and Advil, ibuprofen for fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches and sinus pain,” Minges said. “Others you should have is allergy medicine such as Flonase or Zyrtec.”

Minges also said that good options for treating sick adults could be cough medicine and saline nasal spray, or Claritin D or Allegra D, depending on their symptoms. His best advice for treating a sick child: be prepared.

“The best thing for kids to have as a sick day survival kit is a children’s pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen,” Minges said.

Parents should always have a thermometer on hand and, if possible, invest in a humidifier.

“This is a very important indoor thing to have to raise the moisture level. It helps with allergies and the sinuses more. Keeping one running at night is really beneficial,” Minges said.

Before taking medication, always talk to a doctor or pharmacist.

It’s also important to practice public health measures like washing hands, staying home when sick and receiving the recommended vaccines.

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