Common Cold Medicine
Medication can only treat symptoms of the common cold -- it can't be used to cure or prevent colds. With all the choices out there, it's hard to know which one to take. The medicine you choose should be specific to your symptoms. Types of common cold medicine include nasal decongestants, cough suppressants, and antihistamines. If you take more than one medication, be careful not to duplicate active ingredients.
At this point, there is no common cold medicine (prescription, over the counter, or natural) that can cure or prevent the common cold or shorten the length of the cold. Most of the time, colds simply have to run their course. There are, however, common cold medicines that can treat cold symptoms.
The over-the-counter (OTC) common cold medicine a person chooses should be appropriate for the cold symptoms he or she is experiencing
With all the choices on the shelves, it can be hard to know what common cold medicine to choose. It may seem easier to grab a multisymptom medicine that promises to take care of everything, but it's better to take a product specific to your symptoms. If your only problem is a runny nose, why take a cough suppressant?
Taking medicine for symptoms you don't have may not be harmful, but it unnecessarily exposes you to medicine and any accompanying side effects. Multisymptom medicines can be useful if you truly have several symptoms.
If you want to unclog a stuffy nose, nasal decongestants may help. Cough suppressants quiet coughs; expectorants loosen mucus so you can cough it up; antihistamines help stop a runny nose and sneezing; and pain relievers such as acetaminophen can ease fever, headaches, and minor aches and pains.
On the next page, we will explore the different groups of common cold medicines available.