July 25, 2014
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Allergy

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Cold and allergy treatment: secrets from a pharmacist

We asked a pharmacist for her top 10 tips for getting the most from your cold and allergy treatment. Here's what she told us:

  1. Choose "night-time" products for overnight use. "Daytime" products may contain ingredients, such as pseudoephedrine, that can keep you awake at night. To help you sleep through the night with a cold or allergies, choose a "night-time" product or ask your pharmacist to recommend a product that won't keep you up at night.
     
  2. Choose "daytime" products when you can't afford to be drowsy. Some ingredients (especially certain antihistamines such as diphenhydramine) can cause drowsiness. To avoid this, select a "daytime" or "non-drowsy" product to help you power through your day or ask your pharmacist to recommend a product that won't make you drowsy.
     
  3. Start your allergy medication before allergy season. If you have seasonal allergies, don't wait until you have symptoms - start your allergy medication just before your allergy season begins, and keep taking it every day during allergy season. This way, the medication will be in your system throughout the allergy season.
     
  4. Choose a product that targets your specific cold or allergy symptoms. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a product with ingredients to treat only the symptoms you have.
     
  5. Be careful when combining cold remedies. Many cough and cold products have the same ingredients, or ingredients with similar effects, putting you at risk of overmedication. Plus, some cough and cold ingredients, like acetaminophen, are commonly found in other products such as pain relievers. Check with your pharmacist before combining prescription or over-the-counter medications.
     
  6. Stay away from your allergy triggers. Keep avoiding your allergy triggers, even when you're on allergy medication. These two strategies work together to give you the best symptom relief.
     
  7. Don't use nasal decongestant sprays for more than 3 days. Longer use can cause "rebound" congestion - congestion that gets worse when you stop the medication.
     
  8. Go easy on your nose. Frequent nose-blowing can leave your nose red and raw. To soothe a sore nose and keep it moisturized, try tissues with lotion. You can also apply a small amount of petroleum jelly under your nose.
     
  9. Don't mix herbals and other medications without checking with your pharmacist first. Herbal products may seem safe because they're natural, but many contain powerful ingredients that may not mix well with your other medications.
     
  10. Think "safety first." Always read the label and use all cold and allergy products as directed. Take only the recommended dose using a proper utensil for measuring the dose and only for the length of time recommended on the package. Children under 6 years of age should not be given over-the-counter cough and cold products. If your cold symptoms don't get better after 7 to 10 days, see your doctor.

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