Recommended Winter Remedies

Top 10 Items for Your Medicine Cabinet this Cold & Flu Season

When the common cold and the associated runny nose, congestion, and cough attacks, the best medicine is usually rest, hot chicken noodle soup, and a favorite movie. The last thing anyone wants to do while under the weather is slog up and down aisles of medicines looking for relief.
Take the opportunity now to stock your medicine cabinet with some valuable over-the-counter products that will ease your suffering from typical cold and flu symptoms. It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor or pharmacist before treating yourself just to rule out a more serious bacterial infection that may require antibiotics. Most cases of sore throat, cough, and congestion are viral though and can be treated safely over the counter. Here are my Top 10 items for beating the cold this season:
Top 10 Items for Your Medicine Cabinet this Cold & Flu Season
  1. Antihistamine plus Pseudoephedrine.  There are a multitude of brands—Zyrtec-D, Claritin-D, Allegra-D, and their respective generics—that can help reduce nasal congestion, runny nose, and drainage. If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking these.  They are kept behind the counter at a pharmacy so be prepared to show a driver’s license or state identification before you purchase.
  2. Nasal steroid spray. When Nasacort and Flonase (both formerly presciption-only) moved to being offered over the counter, the options for people seeking relief from nasal allergies and congestion expanded greatly. Use two sprays in each nostril once per day for at least two weeks. These sprays are a great option for individuals who cannot tolerate or take decongestants due to other health conditions.
  3. Cepacol Sore Throat Lozenges. These cough drops are no ordinary cough drops! They contain benzocaine which actually numbs the throat providing relief from irritation and soreness.
  4. Mucinex. The active ingredient in Mucinex is guaifenesin, an expectorant that helps the body clear mucus trapped in the lungs. Take guaifenesin to help make your cough more productive and rid yourself of stubborn phlegm. 
  5. Children’s Dimetapp. With several different formulations, make sure you at least have the Cold & Allergy product containing an antihistamine and a decongestant. It’s approved for use in kids older than six years and may cause a little drowsiness.
  6. Breathe Right Nasal Strips. For a non-medication option to ease nasal congestion, these nasal strips fit over the bridge of the nose and increase airflow into the nasal passages. They are a great option for folks with chronic nasal congestion, but also work well for congestion related to the cold or flu.
  7. Afrin Nasal Spray. Oxymetazoline, the active ingredient in Afrin, is a powerful nasal decongestant that relieves even the toughest sinus congestion. Its effects are noticeable in a matter of minutes and last for up to 12 hours. The problem with Afrin is that its use is limited to no more than 3 days due to rebound congestion that can occur. Use Afrin sparingly and for severe congestion only.
  8. Saline Nasal Spray. Use to help moisten nasal passages when they become dried out due to decongestant use. Saline spray is non-medicated and can be used as much as needed.
  9. Nyquil Severe Cold & Flu. Use at bedtime when your cold symptoms are preventing you from sleeping well. This product contains a decongestant, a sedating antihistamine, a cough suppressant, and acetaminophen (Tylenol) to cover all the bases for a good night’s sleep.
  10. Plenty of Tissues. You will likely still be blowing and wiping your nose long after the worst of your symptoms are gone. Stock up on tissues now both at home and at work. It’s also not a bad idea to keep a couple of travel tissue packs in your car for yourself or a sniffling friend.

 Find a nearby Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy today to stock up your medicine cabinet and talk to a pharmacist about any other needs.


Matt Baker, Pharm.D., RPh

Matt Baker is a pharmacist with Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy in Lufkin.  He received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in 2005 and his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Houston in 2010.  He writes a monthly pharmacy and wellness article for the Lufkin Daily News and is active in the community.  Matt's passion is serving his patients while ensuring that they are equipped to understand and take their medications properly. 

View more of Matt's articles on the Brookshire Brothers blog.