The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your health care provider if you need to take any special precautions.

MEDICATIONS FOR VIRAL UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS (COLDS AND INFLUENZA)

Use each of these medications as recommended by your health care provider, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your health care provider.

Only influenza can be specifically treated with medication, and those medications should be used only in serious cases, because they are not harmless. Common colds should NOT be treated with antibiotics, for several reasons:

Antibiotics, though generally very safe, are not as harmless as the common cold.
Antibiotics do not cure the common cold.
Antibiotics may worsen common colds.
Misuse and overuse of antibiotics has caused a worldwide crisis—the emergence of resistant microbes. Some infections are now resistant to every known antibiotic.

On the other hand, many over-the- counter (OTC) remedies are available to help minimize your symptoms. If the treatments recommended under Lifestyle Changes, such as a warm bath and humidified air, aren't enough, these OTC products will help you through the worst of the illness.

PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS

Amantadine (Symmetrel)

Rimantadine (Flumadine)

Oseltamivir (Tamiflu)

Zanamivir (Relenza)

Codeine

Over-the-counter medications
with each type of OTC medication, the active ingredients are listed. there are many brand name preparations for each of these active ingredients. only a few brand names are listed here, but be aware that there are other brands to choose from. read labels and look for the active ingredients when choosing a product.

Decongestants

Pseudoephedrine (Dimetapp, Myfedrine, Sudafed, Triaminic Decongestant)

Phenylephrine (Alconefrin, Neo-Synephrine, Rhinall)

Naphazoline (Allerest, Comfort Eye Drops, Naphcon, VasoClear)

Oxymetazoline (Afrin, Dristan, Duramist, Neo-Synephrine, Nostrilla, Vicks Sinex)

Antihistamines

 Diphenhydramine (Aller-Max, Banophen, Benadryl, Dormarex 2, Genahist, Nytol, Siladryl)

 Chlorpheniramine (Chlorate, Chlor-Trimeton, Genallerate, Phenetron, Teldrin)

 Brompheniramine (Bromphen, Cophene-B, Dimetapp, Nasahist B)

Pain relievers/fever reducers (antipyretics)

Aspirin

Acetaminophen (Aceta, Apacet, Feverall, Panadol, Tylenol)

Ibuprofen (Advil, Dolgesic, Genpril, Ibuprin, Motrin, Nuprin, Rufen)

Expectorants

Guaifenesin (Anti-Tuss, Fenesin, Halotussin, Robitussin)

Cough suppressants

Dextromethorphan (Benylin, Cough-X, Pertussin Cough Suppressant, Trocal)

PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS

Amantadine (Symmetrel) and Rimantadine (Flumadine)

Amantadine and rimantadine kill only influenza A viruses. They are used for treatment as well as for prevention in high-risk people during an epidemic.

Possible side effects include:

Nausea

Dizziness

Insomnia

Mood and mental changes

Dry mouth

Constipation

Headache

Confusion

Loss of coordination

Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (Relenza)

Oseltamivir and zanamivir are used in adults and older children to prevent or treat infections with both A and B influenza viruses. Both drugs interfere with specific viral chemical processes. Adverse reactions are infrequent and usually mild, but may include nausea, vomiting, and headache.

Codeine

Codeine by prescription is a more effective cough suppressant than OTC cough medicines. However, codeine carries the rare risk of addiction because it is distantly related to narcotics.

OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDICATIONS

Decongestants

Common names include:

Pseudoephedrine (Dimetapp, Myfedrine, Sudafed, Triaminic Decongestant)

Phenylephrine (Alconefrin, Neo-Synephrine, Rhinall)

Naphazoline (Allerest, Comfort Eye Drops, Naphcon, VasoClear)

Oxymetazoline (Afrin, Dristan, Duramist, Neo-Synephrine, Nostrilla, Vicks Sinex)

Decongestants are all related to adrenaline (epinephrine). Some are available topically (nose sprays, eye drops), and others are taken by mouth. Decongestants constrict blood vessels, thereby reducing swelling in inflamed tissues like the nose. Because they can act as mild stimulants, they are usually paired with antihistamines to counteract that sedative effect. The last two on the list, naphazoline and oxymetazoline, are often found in eye drops.

Possible side effects include:

Over-stimulation

Raised blood pressure

Rebound congestion – if these drugs are used for long periods of time, membranes get "addicted" to the effects, so that stopping the mediation produces the swelling and weeping that was originally being treated. This is a common problem with nose drops and sprays.

Antihistamines

Common names include:

Diphenhydramine (Aller-Max, Banophen, Benadryl, Dormarex 2, Genahist, Nytol, Siladryl)

Chlorpheniramine (Chlorate, Chlor-Trimeton, Genallerate, Phenetron, Teldrin)

Brompheniramine (Bromphen, Cophene-B, Dimetapp, Nasahist B)

The main effect of these drugs is to dry up membranes. They are also sedating, so much so that they are the ingredients in all OTC sleep remedies. "Daytime" cold and allergy remedies do not contain antihistamines.

There are also newer prescription antihistamines (available at greater cost) that may cause less drowsiness.

Possible side effects include:

Sedation

Drying of lung secretions, which impairs their clearance and may lead to complications

Retention or difficulty passing urine

Rashes

Dizziness

Headache

Indigestion

Constipation

Anemia

If you have urinary problems or glaucoma, ask your doctor before taking these drugs; the side effects may worsen your condition.

Pain Relievers and Fever Reducers (Antipyretics)

Common names include:

Aspirin

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Aceta, Apacet, Feverall, Panadol)

Ibuprofen (Advil, Dolgesic, Genpril, Ibuprin, Motrin, Nuprin, Rufen)

These drugs reduce both pain and fever. Pain relief is desirable, but fever reduction may not be all that beneficial, since fever helps fight off the infection. Prescription pain relievers like codeine and propoxyphene do not lower fever. Codeine also suppresses coughing.

Aspirin lost favor a few decades ago because of its ability to precipitate Reye Syndrome in young children, so most cold and allergy preparations contain acetaminophen instead. Ask your doctor which types are safe to give to your child.

Possible side effects of aspirin include:

Stomach irritation, ulceration, and bleeding

Allergic reactions

Kidney damage (very rare)

Liver damage (very rare)

Possible side effects of acetaminophen include:

Allergic reactions that damage blood cells or cause rashes

Overdoses can damage the liver

Expectorants

Common names include:

Guaifenesin (Anti-Tuss, Fenesin, Halotussin, Robitussin)

An expectorant decreases the thickness of respiratory secretions so that they can more easily be coughed up or sucked out. The same effect can usually be obtained by breathing wet air, either cold mists or steam.

Possible side effects include:

 Nausea, vomiting

 Headache

 Rash

 Dizziness

Cough Suppressants

Common names include:

Dextromethorphan (Benylin, Cough-X, Pertussin Cough Suppressant, Trocal)

 Codeine (requires a prescription)

These medications help suppress the urge to cough, which is useful if your cough is dry but not such a good idea if you have secretions to clear.

Special Considerations

Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:

Take them as directed, not more, not less, not at a different time.

 Do not stop taking them without consulting your health care provider.

Don’t share them with anyone else.

 Know what effects and side effects to expect, and report them to your health care provider.

 If you are taking more than one drug, even if it is over-the-counter, be sure to check with a physician or pharmacist about drug interactions.

 Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.

When to Contact Your Health Care Provider

If you have a common cold or if you are healthy and have influenza, you can safely ride it out with prescription or over-the-counter medications. However, be aware of these signs that your cold or influenza is transforming into a more serious condition:

New symptoms after the initial onset

Significant fever (over 101 degrees F for colds, any fever beyond 3 to 4 days for influenza)

Yellow, green, or bloody sputum (secretions from your lungs)

Persistence of symptoms beyond 3 or 4 days

Localized pain anywhere (ears, sinuses, head, chest)

Yellow goo on your tonsils

 Changes in your mental status

Request a Refill

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