Cold Medicine

Patient Expert

Well it happened. I got my first cold of the season. I'm absolutely miserable. It started on Election night. Luckily, we had so many people at work that my boss let me go home early. I went home and straight to bed and didn't even know who won until the next day. What makes it worse is the fact there are limited cold medicines that I can take because of my condition.

My doctor told me to only take antihistamines, no decongestants. That's tough especially since my nose is all clogged up and I can't breathe. The reason I can't take decongestants is because they work by narrowing blood vessels in the lining of the nose. This reduces how much blood flows through the area so that swollen tissue inside the nose shrinks and air can pass through more easily. My doctor said decongestants constrict everything and that's no good for a person like me with thick blood.

Side effects, though, aren't usually a problem for healthy adults who only use decongestants once in a while. But, side effects can be a concern for people who have health problems or use decongestants for long periods of time. Pseudoephedrine may make some people feel nervous or dizzy. It can cause palpitations (feeling like your heart is racing) or problems sleeping. It can also raise blood pressure in some people.

Decongestants can also interact with many other medicines you take. If you take any type of prescription medication, especially insulin, seizure disorder medicines, diet pills or high blood pressure medicines, talk to your doctor before taking a decongestant.

Another thing doctors suggest doing is check medicine labels closely. I recently did this, no only to check what active ingredients are in them, but to discard expired drugs. Sometimes, I tend to be a pack rat on medicines and keep them forever. But anyone considering taking a decongestant should take a close look at the labels of any already in their medicine cabinet. In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration prohibited over-the-counter sales of medicines containing the decongestant phenylpropanolamine. The medicine is associated with an increased risk of stroke in people ages 18 to 49, especially women. Many cold remedies contained this medicine. Contact a pharmacist if there is any question about the ingredients in a medication. Over-the-counter remedies containing phenylpropanolamine should be discarded.

I've been taking Benadryl and it is actually helping. But, for me, my saving grace is Zinc. Several years ago, someone suggested this Cold-Eeze to me when I had a cold. They are lozenges and a miracle in my opinion. As soon as you feel a cold coming on, start them and it cuts duration of your cold. In fact, I felt better the next day. There is another product called Zicam. I went to buy that the other day, but the pharmacist told me all it is, is Zinc and that my Cold-Eeze is the same thing. The Zinc doesn't constrict anything and I can take it with my Benadryl and it doesn't mess up my Coumadin levels. But, always check with your doctor before taking any herb or medication, just to be safe. Meanwhile, I'm going to keep drinking my orange juice and taking my Zinc and hopefully be feeling better soon.

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