I’m a pharmacist and this is what I take when I have a cold

I’m a pharmacist and this is what I take when I have a cold

Colds may be common, but they’re still not fun. The “common cold,” a general term used to describe a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, typically includes symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, throat pain, congestion, runny nose, head and body aches, and even a low-grade fever. And while these symptoms will go away in a week or two for most people, they can be quite unpleasant while they last, causing many of us to turn to over-the-counter (OTC) medications to ease our suffering .

“Whether a medication is prescription or over-the-counter, it’s important to check with a pharmacist before starting a new cold medication. This includes herbal products, as these can also contribute to drug-drug interactions.” miguel awadallaPharmD and executive vice president of Tabula Rasa HealthCaresaying Better life. “Pharmacists have unique training and education to look at a person’s entire medication routine and address potential drug interactions.”

With that in mind, read on to find out what pharmacists turn to when they come down with an all-too-common, but too-nasty cold.

READ THIS NEXT: I’m a pharmacist and these are the over-the-counter medications I won’t be taking.


“There are several options available and it can be hard to know which one is best,” Bay Curry WinchellMD, urgent care medical director and physician at Carbon Health and Saint Mary’s Hospital, said Better life. “If I’m experiencing a runny nose that just won’t stop, I look for a medication that contains an antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine.”

READ THIS NEXT: Doing this at night messes up your immune system, according to a new study.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

One Medical surveyed more than 100 doctors, nurses, and physician assistants in its network to find the top recommendations for treating cold symptoms and NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen, found in brands like Motrin, Aleve, and Advil, were high on your list.

NSAIDs “are your best bet for relieving the pain and fever of a cold or flu virus,” they wrote, although they also noted that “taking NSAIDs can increase your risk of heart attack and caress if you take them by weeks or moreso use the lowest dose possible for the shortest amount of time.”


“Don’t you love that moment during a cold when your sinuses finally open up and you can breathe through your nose for the first time in days?” amanda angelotti, MD, wrote for One Medical. “The decongestant pseudoephedrine is often behind that little miracle.”

Although pseudoephedrine is highly regulated and can increase your blood pressure or heart rate, is a highly effective decongestant that can boost sinus pressure by reducing blood vessel swelling. Rogers recommends starting with 30mg doses at first, as opposed to the higher marketed doses that last 12 or 24 hours, as the drug is a stimulant and could disrupt sleep.

For more health news delivered directly to your inbox, Sign up for our daily newsletter.

nasal irrigators

For sinus congestion and pressure, the main treatment response given by One Medical doctors was nasal irrigationlike what you would get using a neti pot.

This “sinus shower” helps remove allergens and mucus from the upper respiratory tract, reduces inflammation and increases hydration, they wrote. “Our providers recommend twice-daily nasal irrigation with warm salt water until symptoms improve.”

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from leading experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not intended to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medications you are taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your health care provider directly.

Leave a Comment